Push Downtown Efforts to E. Jackson

Letter to the Editor: The Jackson Sun

It is encouraging to see continued investment and renovation efforts in downtown Jackson, even in these difficult financial times. That is testament to public confidence that downtown is a viable and important venue for business and residential centers. It is also a good model for government/private investments in other parts of the city.

That latest high-profile renovation effort is the rebuilding of structures adjacent to TLM Associates on Lafayette Street. The two Civil War era structures have been renovated and will provide expansion space for TLM offices and other uses. The new facades maintain downtown’s architectural character.

Revitalization of downtown Jackson has been taking shape for several years. It was kick-started by large municipal investment in a new City Hall and a state government investment that led to the Ned R. McWherter West Tennessee Cultural Arts Center. Those investments spawned additional city efforts to buy up land and dilapidated buildings for future use. Soon, investors – such as John Allen of the John H. Allen Co. and private investors such as David Horton and others – saw opportunity in investing downtown. Thanks to those early efforts, major downtown anchors such as First United Methodist Church and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church chose to stay downtown and rebuild following the 2003 tornadoes that damaged so much of the area.

Now it is time for the success of these partnerships to be duplicated in parts of East Jackson that have languished for years. The city should commit to fully restoring and improving Centennial Park and to finishing the Anderson Creek area into a park setting. Next, it is time to tear down the Adams Hall eyesore on the old Union University campus across from T.R. White Sportsplex. The property can be acquired for little money and would make a perfect site for a new East Jackson Community Center to complement T.R. White.

These are not difficult projects, but they demand resolve on the part of the city that has been missing. And the poor economy is no excuse. The city repeatedly has found money for projects in other parts of the city. It can find it for East Jackson, too.

With downtown once again vital, it is time to push these revitalization efforts eastward and begin to rebuild what was once a pleasant and vital part of the city.

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