Consultant and developer Jason Watkins presents Venyu's plans to Fondren residents

Consultant and developer Jason Watkins presents Venyu’s plans to Fondren residents

A “building with a story” will soon have a new story to tell.

Baton Rogue-based Venyu Solutions has closed on the former McRae’s property in north Fondren for the development of a data storage and cloud-based data center and technology park. The $35 million project includes over 100,000 square feet of space and is estimated to produce 30-40 jobs once opened in 2015.

Tommy Curb, Venyu’s executive vice president of business development and general counsel, says the company is ready to hit the ground running with an economic driver for the area. He says, “This facility will be an avenue to create jobs, and Jackson, we feel, is a great community to invest in. We’re looking forward to becoming active and participating local citizens of the city.”

Venyu Solutions specializes in the redundancy and protection of data for major corporations. Their clients include Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Louisiana and the New Orleans Saints. The company will look to create valued partnerships such as these in Mississippi. “Hospitals and health care providers, accounting firms, law firms, financial planners and brokerage houses all deal in valuable data and look to us so that they can focus on their core competencies,” Curb explains. “We don’t typically offer ‘off-the-shelf’ services. We custom tailor a solution for each customer and believe that’s one thing that separates us from others in this space.”

Jason Watkins, a consultant, developer and Fondrenite, brought Venyu to the table and to the historic McRae’s property. Watkins presented the plan to a meeting of Fondren residents on Tuesday night and said the technology company had other choices. “They first asked about a location in Ridgeland but I directed them to Jackson instead,” he told the residents.

Lead architect Roy Decker of Duvall Decker Architects says the building’s significant architecture, designed by Fondrenite Thomas J. Biggs, is hiding under years of remodeling. “It’s a pre-cast concrete structure from the Chicago School modern style with beautiful brick screens and canopies that we plan to bring back,” he says.

The Samuel P. McRae founded dry goods company began in 1902 in Mississippi and located their first big box store here in the 300 block of Meadowbrook Road in 1960. Decker says the building is a part of the Jackson story and is hopeful of the Venyu acquisition. “They will turn this vacant parking lot into a vibrant part of Fondren.”

Related: McRae’s Building Seen as Possible Key to North Development