Thursday, November 22, 2007

Criticism Arises for Elkington's Farish Street Project In Jackson, MS

Posted By on Thu, Nov 22, 2007 at 4:00 AM

Beale Street developer John Elkington's Performa Entertainment company is being criticized by civic leaders in Jackson, Mississippi, for a lack of progress in the proposed Farish Street project.

From the Jackson Free Press: The Farish Street District Redevelopment Ad Hoc Committee and Jackson Mayor Frank Melton lobbed complaints about the lack of development progress in the Farish Street Entertainment District at a public forum last week. Committee members, including chairman Harold Lathon and hip-hop artist and Jackson Free Press columnist 'Kamikaze,' hurled complaints at Memphis-based Performa Entertainment Real Estate Inc., which is overseeing development of the project.

Kamikaze pointed out that Farish Street languishes in blight while other portions of downtown blossom with new development.

"If you stand in front of the site of the convention center and look a stone's throw away from the convention center, you still see the blight that exists on Farish Street," Kamikaze said. "Nobody's doing anything about it."

Melton proposed to take the Farish Street contract away from Performa.

"Over the last four or five weeks, there's been nobody working on the entertainment district," Melton said. "We're going to pull that contract and get some local people who can get that done."

Melton criticized the absence of Mid State Construction workers on Farish Street, telling the crowd that contractors working with the Memphis company told him that Performa had been stiffing them out of their pay. "I called (Mid State), and they say they haven't been paid in the last three months, and that's why they're not down there (working) anymore," Melton said.

Mid State Chief Operations Officer P.G. Bernheim said Mid State had completed Phase 1 of the project and was "waiting for Phase 2 and Perform's direction on it."

"I talked to (Performa's Vice President of Development) Cato (Walker) Tuesday or Wednesday of this week, and I feel optimistic about the situation," Bernheim said.

Walker admitted Performa owed Mid State money, but added that rumors were flying about the two companies' relationship.

"Positions have been made about our circumstances without anyone ever calling to see if those were true," Walker said. "We are working with the state and our lender to close out Phase 1, and we're paying Mid State the money that they are owed."

Read the rest at the Free Press website.

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