The Meridian at Fondren, a $33 million apartment home development on Lakeland Drive fronting the University of Mississippi Medical Center, is a perfect example of public and private sectors coming together for the good of the community and state.
That's the message delivered by the project's partners, UMMC administrators and city officials during groundbreaking ceremonies Wednesday at the 4.4 acre construction site that backs up to Fondren's Woodland Hills neighborhood. About 18 months from now, the five-story Meridian's studio units plus one, two and three bedroom apartments are slated to be occupied by up to a total 500 residents.
It's a joint project of SKD Development, the StateStreet Group and Kassinger Development Group, whose partners welcomed investors, architects, and financial and construction companies to ceremonies that attracted more than 100 supporters.
'What makes the Meridian project so exciting is that it meets the needs of Fondren on so many levels," Stewart Speed, a partner in SKD Development, said of the vibrant business, residential and entertainment district off downtown that's fast becoming known for its walkability.
"The Fondren area badly needs quality residences, and the medical corridor needs significant private development to act as a catalyst for future growth," Speed said.
Rendering of The Meridian (See below article for full-resolution version)
The Meridian's art deco architecture will be set off by signature vertical signage, spanning the length of four of the floors, bearing the name "Meridian." The top four stories are residential, with the street level home to mostly retail, office and meeting space.
Monthly rental rates will range from $900-$1,600. There will be about 4,000 square feet available on the street level.
SKD recently razed seven buildings on the site owned by UMMC and is responsible for the project's financing, construction oversight, and apartment, office and retail leasing and management.
UMMC will not own or manage any of the development, but administrators applaud the addition of top-rate living space on the edge of campus and the availability of new retail shops to UMMC employees, patients and their families.
It's been almost four years since he and Speed "talked about doing this project as we sat at Cups, right around the corner," said John Ditto, president of StateStreet Group. "We knew there was a demand for quality housing in Fondren, and in those four years, that has only increased."
"We recruit from across the United States. A lot of faculty want to walk to work," said Dr. James Keeton, former UMMC vice chancellor and dean of the School of Medicine.
What sets the Meridian apart from other apartment home construction, in addition to its sense of community and unique location in one of Jackson's hippest neighborhoods, is its amenities, its developers say.
Every apartment will have a balcony, either full or Juliet, Speed said. Residents will have use of more than 300 surface or garage parking places, and they'll work out in an aerobics and yoga studio at a high-end fitness center "with equipment equal to what you'd find at a local gym," Speed said. Pets are welcome, and owners can exercise them in a gated dog park next to the development.
Projects such as the Meridian are part of Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber's vision for the city, said Jason Goree, Jackson's economic developer. "We feel like this is vital, and that success is contagious," Goree said. "We want to make this project happen. This is a sign that Jackson is vibrant. Jackson is prosperous. Jackson is committed."
The groundbreaking is "one of the joys of my life," said Ward 7 Councilwoman Margaret Barrett-Simon, whose district includes Fondren. "This kind of investment is what is going to catapult us into the next era of development."
Pre-leasing should begin in early summer, Speed said.