It was a packed house at Hub City Brewing for the last-minute informational session about upcoming plans for Downtown Jackson. The City of Jackson, LRK Architects, and several stakeholders met most of the day to brainstorm ideas for what is called the “Downtown/Airways” zone.
“We are seeing people so invested in downtown, which is the origin and the heart of our city,” Lauren Kirk, manager for this project for the City of Jackson, said, “and where I would say the most unity comes in our city– because you see people from all walks of life, all demographics, all socioeconomic classes here. It’s just encouraging and inspiring for everyone to collaborate and have a voice at the table. And to say that their voice is equally valued is huge. I’m really hopeful to see where this plan takes us and what we’re able to implement over the next few years to shape downtown to the future of Jackson as a whole.”
The main focus is to make Downtown Jackson and Airways Blvd. more walkable, cleaner, and safer. This would be done by redesigning sidewalks, filling in open spaces with outdoor areas and green spaces, cleaning up and bringing back Central Creek, and collaborating with business owners.
“What I’m excited about is more detailed, more specifics, looking into the streetscape, and the types of development that mixes well together,” Kirk said, “And just involving everyday people in these sessions. It’s huge. And so I’m hopeful to see more of that, to see more buy-in, to see this be more resident driven, instead of driven by money or government or firms.”
This study, which is also being conducted for the Oman Arena area, Jackson Plaza area, and West Madison County area, is viewed as a ten year plan. The last time this was done was after the 2002 tornado in downtown Jackson. Kirk hopes this study will direct the area’s growth in coming years.
Kirk says to do that, they will have to look at funding options, and she isn’t sure what direction the city will go.
“We’re going to have to assess that as a city because we don’t want this plan just to sit on the shelf. We want it to be active. We want it to be a true public private partnership,” Kirk said.
How the public can participate
LRK and the City of Jackson will be holding public information sessions like this one for all four development sites in Jackson. They have also set up a website for a public survey and public comment.
“We want to hear from as many people as we can’t really if we want it to be. Our goal is to make this very transparent project,” Victor Buchholz, with LRK said, “What we really want to do is make sure that everybody in the Jackson community feels like this is their plan, and that only comes about by people participating in it.”
The survey, which takes less than ten minutes, compares pictures of different downtown developments and asks you to pick which one you like best. There is also an open-ended section for comment.
“It does feel like that, particularly in downtown, there’s a lot of momentum already. And so we want to lean into that momentum,” Buchholz said.
The survey is available at the City of Jackson’s website. Informational sessions for Oman Arena, Jackson Plaza and West Madison County have not been announced yet.
Julia Ewoldt, firstname.lastname@example.org