- Associated Press - Thursday, May 15, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The University of Mississippi Medical Center plans to lease 4.4 acres on the north edge of its Jackson campus to a developer who wants to build a 224-unit apartment complex with ground-level stores and offices.

The College Board approved the lease Thursday. If Attorney General Jim Hood’s office also approves, SKD Development plans to go forward with the project.

SKD, a consortium led by Jackson developer Stewart Speed, will lease the property on the north side of Lakeland Drive. The lease runs for 40 years, with developers getting an option to extend it to 60 years and then UMMC getting an option to extend it to 80 years. Developers would pay UMMC $9.5 million if the lease ran 80 years.

UMMC chose SKD Development from among three proposals it received in 2012. However, legislators had to pass a law earlier this year allowing the university to lease the land for such a long period.

University officials say it will cost $30 million to $32 million to build what developers are calling The Meridian at Fondren, which renderings show as a five-story apartment complex.

Dr. James Keeton, vice chancellor for UMMC, said the development will boost both the medical center and the surrounding Fondren neighborhood. He said having high-end apartments across the street would help lure professors used to more urban settings.

“They’re used to living in apartments across the street from the academic medical center,” Keeton told the College Board. “This would be a great recruiting tool for us.”

The university will move current clinics and offices housed in seven buildings on the land to other locations. SKD Development will demolish those buildings as early as this summer before beginning construction.

“We anticipate that the Meridian will attract not only UMMC personnel and others from the larger medical community, but anyone and everyone who appreciates the walkable, vibrant environment of Fondren,” Speed said.


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