HomeBusinessCity's budget committee recommends purchase of Jackson Plaza

City’s budget committee recommends purchase of Jackson Plaza

The Jackson City Council’s budget committee met Thursday morning to discuss a budget amendment for $4 million to fund the purchase of Jackson Plaza.

Conger announced the intention to buy the land at the corner of Highland Avenue and Old Hickory Boulevard last week that includes the old Service Merchandise building that has sat dormant for two decades.

City councilmen Paul Taylor, Johnny Dodd and Ross Priddy are also on the committee in the meeting along with YMCA Director Dave Bratcher and local insurance agent Ron Tharpe.

Conger started the conversation by pointing out the City had to borrow money to pay a $2.3 million price tag for a tract of land in 2017.

“But now, our fund balance has built up enough that we can simply write a check if this is approved in this meeting and is approved by the council in two readings,” Conger said.

If the City were to purchase the land, Conger’s plans are to construct a convention center and 9,000-seat arena for concerts, sporting events and other occasions.

Visit Jackson TN Director Lori Nunnery was present for the meeting and said afterward the arena and convention center would be big for Jackson’s economy.

“The convention center by itself would be similar to what Murfreesboro as at its Embassy Suites where they’re having events all the time and bringing in people from out of town putting more money into that local economy,” Nunnery said.

Conger added having the arena and concerts would only add even more of an economic boost to the city.

“We have a great civic center, but it’s booked up all the time already,” Conger said. “So if you’re wanting to have an event there, good luck.

“Next year is already booked up, and they’re already well into 2024 with its bookings.”

Taylor, who is the chairman of the committee, said the location is near the geographic center of the city and that area needs to be redeveloped to give the Midtown area to its south and the one mile of space between the tract and Interstate 40 to the north a boost in its redevelopment.

“When you look at everything that’s set to happen around here between Blue Oval City and all the industry that will bring to the area, we need something like this in the city,” Taylor said. “I think it would be a good spot, and we’ve got a past study the City had done that says the same thing.”

During the meeting’s discussion, Conger said Aranov, who leased the land through 2026 from the Rosenblum family who owns it as part of a trust, had talked to a few other potential buyers of the land and said none of the other options would’ve been as good of a use of the land as his plans. The only other option he mentioned was climate-controlled storage.

“When you look at that location and its proximity to the interstate and other areas of town, we need that to be used for the best possible option,” Conger said. “And I think this is it.”

The committee voted unanimously to recommend to the City Council to approve the budget amendment. Since it needs two readings before the Council before it passes, Conger has called a special council meeting for Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. for first reading so the second reading can potentially happen at their usual January meeting.

Once that is complete, the work will begin at selecting developers and architects who will oversee the work and demolition of the current building.

“It’s going to be a long process,” Conger said. “My goal is to have begun demolition by this time next year.

“I don’t know if we can get everything to happen quickly enough that it could happen, but if you’d asked me if we’d be at this point in the process now back in February, I wouldn’t have thought we would. So that’s my goal at this point.”

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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