$57.6M in affordable housing, renovations coming to Jackson, other areas
Justin Vicory, Mississippi Clarion Ledger Published 3:00 a.m. CT Feb. 3, 2020

A $57.6 million development and home renovation project involving six counties will bring affordable housing for low-income and elderly residents and provide renovations to hundreds of homes, officials say.
The local branch of the Mississippi Regional Housing Authority made the announcement Thursday at a groundbreaking where officials described plans to build a 100-unit affordable living complex called Hickman Heights in south Jackson.

This schematic shows a 100-unit affordable living complex that is being constructed in south Jackson. (Photo: Courtesy/Mississippi Regional Housing Authority 6)

A model moving forward?

The public-private investment is particularly important in south Jackson, officials noted, which has suffered from disinvestment and urban flight for years.
“We have a housing epidemic. However, now we have a example of a model that can be used moving forward,” said Jackson Councilman Aaron Banks, whose Ward 6 borders the development site.

The complex is named for Dr. Hickman Johnson, the executive director of MRHA Region 6. Johnson has over 40 years of public housing experience and was named as the principal visionary for the project at Thursday’s ceremony.

The complex will sit on the former site of the La Quinta Inn on Angle Drive off Terry Road and in the shadow of Interstate 20 and Interstate 55. It
is expected to be completed by July 1, 2021. Construction began in December.

The four-floor complex will have 100 rent-subsidized units. Much of the 80 one-bedroom and 20 two-bedroom units will be geared toward senior citizens, according to MRHA. The housing authority will be accepting applications on its website for potential residents.The development will also offer residents education programs, community events and activities, personal development and counseling programs.

“It’s a revival, right at the gate to south Jackson,” said Johnson.

Dr. Hickman Johnson, executive director of the Mississippi Regional Housing Authority 6, explains at a Jan. 30, 2020, ground-breaking the long, complicated process that
was undertaken to get funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and private partners to build an affordable housing complex and renovate
hundreds of homes in the region.

Another 136 homes owned by the MRHA across the central Mississippi region will be renovated as part of the project, with plans for an additional 20 living units to be built, officials said.
The share for Hickman Heights is about $17.4 million. The rest of the investment will go toward distressed properties in Canton, Edwards, Hermanville, Jackson, Pearl, Port Gibson, Tchula and Yazoo City.
The overall housing project is expected to create 633 construction jobs and 37 long-term jobs. The Hickman project by itself is expected to provide 291 construction jobs and 15 post-construction jobs, officials said.

Investment ‘complicated’ multiyear process

Hickman and others at the ceremony said securing a commitment from all investors on the project was complicated and also unique since it spans so many cities and counties.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Hickman said. “We wanted to take this property and build a model development. It’s unique. I think everyone would agree it was a complicated process.”
Katina Pace, the deputy director for the regional MRHA, said Thursday’s announcement is the culmination of discussions that first started in 2012. That year, the MRHA acquired the hotel property from the state. Five years later, HUD accepted the authority’s application for the project, Pace said.

The real estate development company, BGC Advantage, is the master developer for the project, with Redstone, Cedar Rapids Bank & Trust, the Mississippi Home Corporation, Sterling Bank, River City Builders, DNA Workshop, Ross & Yerger and Standard Enterprises, Inc. also partnering on the project.

Watch live stream or view a slide show of the event.

Contact Justin Vicory at 769-572-1418 or jvicory@gannett.com