215-unit high-end loft development coming to North Fondren

Artists rendering of Prado Lofts, a new development planned for North Fondren.
Artists rendering of Prado Lofts, a new development planned for North Fondren.(Dale Partners Architects)
Published: Aug. 11, 2022 at 4:05 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A local developer hopes his plans for the old Meadowbrook McRae’s site will spark a renaissance in North Fondren, much like the one that occurred in the Fondren Business Improvement District years ago.

Gabriel Prado is building the Prado Lofts, a 215-unit, $60 million development planned for the property located at the corner of Meadowbrook Road and North State Street.

The McRae’s department store closed years ago, and previous plans to redevelop the site have fallen through. The building has been empty for years.

The Belhaven University graduate purchased the property in late December, noticing its potential.

“We have a deep belief that this will be a catalyst for the redevelopment of the entire area,” Prado said. “This abandoned building has been an eyesore in the community. We’re going to go in there and tear everything down... and build from the ground up.”

Prado is president and Chief Executive Officer of PraCon Global Investment Group, with offices housed in Fondren. According to his LinkedIn profile, he has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Belhaven and a master’s degree in management from Harvard Extension School.

His lengthy resume also includes stints as a special projects officer and Latin America trade manager with the Mississippi Development Authority and as director of economic development for the city of Clinton.

“We came from very humble origins. My father was a real estate developer... who worked in California and Mexico. He passed away 18 months ago,” he said. “We’re following up on his legacy... Going in and investing in places, developing them and making them better.”

Like many young people, Prado considered leaving the state but instead decided to stay and make Jackson and the Magnolia State a better place.

“We see the challenges with brain drain, and young people like myself trying to leave. Instead of doing a large, mixed-use development elsewhere, this will allow people like us to stay here,” he said.

“At the end of the day, people want not only a place to work but a place to live, prosper and have top-of-the-line entertainment venues that provide a better quality of life.”

The development will feature 215 high-end loft apartments, which will have an average rent of about $1,900 a month.

“This will be a four-story building with every amenity - courtyards, a dog park, Peloton rooms, yoga rooms, a business center... The highest standard there is,” he said. “Think of the District Lofts but one step ahead.”

Prado is targeting University of Mississippi Medical Center students, as well as young professionals.

He said a national firm conducted a feasibility study showing a demand for the type of housing being offered, something that data conducted by his office also re-affirmed.

“That gives us the certainty that it’s going to be a big success,” he said. “Data says this is going to be a success based on that.”

The project is being financed by Origin Bank. The development itself was designed by Dale Partners Architects.

Construction will take about 18 months to complete, weather pending. He hopes to begin leasing units by the end of 2023.

“Our firm is headquartered in Fondren... My brother and wife live a couple of blocks from [the site]. I lived in the same house a couple of years ago,” he said. “That tells you we have skin in the game. Our firm is in this area. If anyone has any questions, if anyone has any issues, we’re here.”

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