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Developer’s “passion project” to lead to 200,000 sq. ft. in renovations, 200 housing units Downtown

A Jackson-native has started investing millions of dollars into Downtown properties, including  the Rockabilly building, the former Jackson Sun office, the Elks Building, the Hardee-Martin building and more. 

R.E. Butts is the former owner of Butts Foods (432 N. Royal St.). He sold the company to Quirch Foods in 2020. Now, he is the owner of High Point Logistics and several other LLCs that are responsible for much of the redevelopment Downtown. 

“It’s a redevelopment of about 200,000 square feet of existing downtown properties and about 200 extra single family housing units, with some townhomes, all within a one-mile radius of Downtown,” Butts said. “I wanted to do this because I’m from here. 

“We were already doing this as more of a passion project during Covid. Now there is a demand. People are moving here every day. We have so much activity from the industry side and government side. We wanted to add amenity-driven nicer places to live for the residents and ourselves.”

Butts also went over the plans for many of the buildings his company owns, starting with the Rockabilly building. The building has been remodeled on the bottom floor to accommodate Havner’s Frame Shop and Art Gallery. The top floor is expected to hold a high-end event space. 

Across the intersection, Butts’s company owns the building that now holds Turntable Coffee Counter. The upstairs is currently being renovated into apartments. 

In 2022, his company bought the former Jackson Sun office building. The several-thousand sq. ft. building has been a source of speculation since the newspaper announced they would be leaving the space, as people wondered what to do with a building so large. 

Butts said jokingly, “We’re working on that.”

“We’ve got some real interesting things going on right now,” he continued, “We’ve hired a national real estate firm and an architectural firm that are in early-stage development planning on the project. We don’t know exactly what that project is going to end up as. But, I would like for it to be some type of large mixed-use facility with live/work space.”

They also bought what is known as the Hardee-Martin building (for the lawyers formerly located there). The bottom floor is being renovated into retail and restaurant space. Recently, a new restaurant, Jackson’s Kitchen & Catering, announced they will be moving in. The owners of that restaurant also own Rock’N Dough Pizza and Brewery and Hub City Brewing. The top floors of the building are being renovated into apartments with amenities. Butts expects them to be completed late this fall. 

In Dec. 2022, his company bought the Elks Building on the corner of Baltimore and North Highland. Currently, they are doing due-diligence on the building to see what can be done. 

“Our architects are now in there drawing, so we’re probably looking at a six-month timeline before we get those drawings back,” Butts said, while teasing that a couple of large organizations have shown interest in moving their headquarters there.

Along with investing in Downtown, Butts also owns High Point Logistics. Their office is located across the street from City Hall. Butts said they will eventually be turning the first floor of that office building into a co-work space, for people who need small offices located Downtown. 

“We’ve got to have more places to live down here: better places, better housing options. And I think what we’re hearing from people moving to Jackson is that they want amenities. They want to be able to walk safely to a restaurant, grocery store, coffee shop or a bookstore,” Butts said. 

He also addressed the desire for “mom and pop” businesses to stay open in the area, as rent in cities like Nashville have increased to unaffordable rates, shutting out those types of businesses. 

“We’re here to develop a conglomerate of properties that hold their historic value. We’ll be creating an ecosystem that helps everyone thrive,” Butts said. 

Julia Ewoldt, julia@jacksonpost.news

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