The Whitney Place Development Group has formally announced their partnership today with Jackson-based Desai Hotel Group to construct a 111 room hotel in Fondren.
The “boutique-style” Hampton Inn will be located at 3111 North State Street between Butterfly Yoga and The Pig & Pint on the site long occupied by Rankin Interiors. Construction is set to begin this spring.
David Pharr, a partner in the Whitney Place Development Group, says the hotel will be anything but typical. “The hotel’s ‘front entrance’ will be accessed from Hartfield Street to keep the State Street side pedestrian friendly,” Pharr says. “We’ll be working within the Urban Town Center zoning overlay that calls for high density, walkable developments that meet the sidewalk. It gives us the opportunity to maintain the feel and walkability of Fondren as it exists today.”
The building itself, five stories in height, has been designed with funky Fondren in mind, mirroring existing neighborhood aesthetics. Six-thousand square feet of class A retail store fronts will occupy the State Street ground floor and a yet-to-be-named local restaurant is hoped for on the top floor.
The Desai Hotel Group has consulted with Fondren firm Wier Boerner Allin Architecture for exterior design review, a process Pharr says has been carefully pored over. “The balconies will be fun for the (Zippity Doo DahÂ®) parade, and the rooftop great for sunsets on mild nights,” he notes. Fondren interior designer Celia Barrett has been tasked with curating the hotel’s interiors. “It’s a building, I believe,” Pharr says, “the neighborhood will be proud of.”
Adequate parking for guests of the property will be constructed behind the hotel, not taking away from any existing neighborhood parking. That lot will also serve the future needs of Whitney Place, a “later phase” of the group’s plans, that calls for additional mixed-use buildings and a public green space to be built parallel to and behind “The Strip” along with an access road set to run between Mitchell Avenue and Hartfield Street.
Will Fondren lose The Strip? Pharr answers: “There is no connection between our current plans and plans that were considered in 2008. We do not want to change the character of The Strip or that part of the neighborhood except to enhance it. There are no plans to demolish any buildings on The Strip. We’ll essentially be adding another block to the commercial district in an area already zoned for it.”
Pharr also points out that, in 2014, Whitney Place sponsored a successful effort to have The Strip included in the National Register of Historic Places, a move that would have been contrary to anything but restoration. Additionally, he notes that Whitney Place developers have consulted with officials from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to consider their views on how to integrate the new hotel with the historic character of The Strip and overall neighborhood.
Fondren is a residential neighborhood with a commercial core – small town meets hip city vibe. Pharr says, as developers, their hope is to enhance that. “The thrust of what people seek these days is the ability to walk from home to grocery or restaurant, clustering amenities around the potential to do everything on foot or on bike,” he explains. “We’re adding a place for people to come and stay and experience that on a short term basis. But those same amenities will be a plus for the neighborhood, too. We all aspire to those values in our group and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Pharr cited a recent market study that shows the need for 300 hotel rooms in Fondren. It’s the same study that is fueling a neighboring hotel, The Fondren, set to also begin construction this year.
And while no firm details on a construction schedule were available for the Hampton Inn, Pharr believes the project should take eighteen months or less, making an opening date of summer 2017 probable.
August 2017 update: This project has yet to break ground. A new timetable has not been made available.Â