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Businesses Leave Downtown Jackson

Published: Apr. 18, 2003 at 7:48 PM CDT|Updated: May. 8, 2003 at 3:54 PM CDT
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By Bert Case
bert@wlbt.net

Downtown Jackson was once booming with business, but over the years businesses have slowly left. Today, there is only a skeleton of what once was, and there will soon be one less business there. One downtown business owner is in the process of packing up and moving to a different location.

Lamia's Boutique is in the process of a 50% off sale, to sell downtown merchandise instead of moving it to a new location in Highland Village shopping center. Lamia Dabit's family has operated clothing stores in downtown Jackson for more than 40 years, and her husband Sam is keeping his store at Farish and Capitol, The Fashion Corner. She says it is not crime that is driving her out of downtown, but a lack of business.

"Business got so bad for me I decided to move. I hate to leave downtown, because we felt safe. It's a nice area and they needed to do something," said Dabit.

Downtown Jackson was once the most thriving business district in the state, as late as the 1950's and 60's. News film acquired from the Department of Archives and History shows a different picture of downtown Jackson in 1958, just after a snowstorm. WLBT has also been able to acquire some film of downtown shot by the Chamber of Commerce in 1938. The once thriving six-block area of Capitol Street from the Old Capitol to the railroad tracks now has only seven stores left. There are also only four restaurants left.

There is a 20 million dollar renovation of the train station underway that should be completed this summer. Every expert we have talked to about renovation of downtown says it won't happen until something is done about the old King Edward hotel. Mayor Harvey Johnson says he is the one who will do something about it, and he has done more than anyone else. The King Edward is now owned by the Jackson Redevelopment Authority, which is trying to find somebody to renovate it. The owners who lost it for not paying taxes could still appeal.