A new landmark and economic driver will begin to rise nine stories into Fondren’s skyline by year’s end with an announcement today of “The Fondren.”
The 100 room “boutique hotel” will be developed on the corner of Mitchell and State Street and utilizes and preserves the current mid-century modern Kolb’s Cleaners as the hotel’s lobby. The development team is working with Kolb’s to locate in a different storefront location. The multi-phase development, which includes other uses and parking, will stretch westward to Oxford Avenue.
The hotel will feature meeting and conference spaces, a hotel bar, fitness center, an outdoor “brick yard” amphitheater and festival space, and a ninth floor rooftop bar, The Asylum, which boasts a 270 degree view from the highest point in the neighborhood.
The $20 million project, developed by Eldon Development Group with its partner, CDA Hospitality, is being heralded for its potential to spark an already fast-growing Fondren economy. Impact studies conducted by Cowart Hospitality Services of Birmingham, Alabama, predict the development, when stabilized, will achieve a 75 percent average occupancy rate, produce over $200 million in spending over ten years, and millions of dollars in tax revenue for the city of Jackson.
That same study shows a need for a Fondren hotel, going as far as to say “three 300 room hotels” could be supported in the neighborhood. The hotel will be also managed by CDA Hospitality, an experienced hotel operator and Jackson-based firm committed to projects that impact the revival of the city.
The Fondren brings a new kind of hotel to the Jackson area. Geared to business travelers, young professionals and tourists, as well as people who want to come to concerts, go to eat and stay the weekend, the property will also support area colleges and hospitals. The Fondren is being billed as “a hotel that will serve businesses in Fondren well.”
The project aims to serve the neighborhood to its west, too. Eldon Development’s Roy Decker says The Fondren will be built using historic tax credits and other incentives that make possible the development in fringe and disadvantaged areas. “Our architectural design and community planning work is strongly community development minded,” he says. “Part of our mission at Eldon asks, ‘How can a successful development project serve the community and promote economic growth?'”
Beyond the philanthropic nature, Decker hopes that the development will set off westward growth. “Our goal is to help expand Mitchell (Avenue), giving Fondren another spoke, another major street to grow on,” he says.
Predicted additional retail, new and repurposed housing and recreational spaces could crop up because of The Fondren and “complimentary historic district projects” Decker and his team are currently working on. He says, “In talking with Fondren Renaissance Foundation, we are emphasizing the importance of a master plan that takes into account traffic, circulation and a bigger community with better accommodations. Hopefully our project begins to unify the area.”
On news of the development, Fondren Renaissance Executive Director Jim Wilkirson expressed gratitude to the architects and planning team behind the monumental project. “From the integration of the architecture to preserve and further urbanize our neighborhood to the due diligence among the business and residential community surrounding the project, we sincerely believe that this project is to the utmost benefit of the Fondren community,” he says. “This investment, when coupled with the existing building projects now in process within the Fondren area, further exemplifies the strength and importance of our local economy to the city of Jackson and the state of Mississippi.”
The Fondren is scheduled to break ground later this year and will take 18 months to complete. Kolb’s Cleaners plans to consolidate into a storefront to be determined.
August 2017 update: This project has yet to break ground. A new timetable has not been made available.