- Associated Press - Friday, November 6, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The city of Jackson is buying the 60,000 square feet it leases in the Metrocenter mall, and Hinds County will acquire 40,000 feet in a deal the two finalized this week.

Under a new agreement with the local group Retro Metro LLC, The Clarion-Ledger reports (https://on.thec-l.com/1WEpFsG) the city’s monthly lease payments will go toward the purchase. Retro Metro was formed in 2010 by Jackson businessmen LeRoy Walker, Howard Catchings and Socrates Garret to renovate the former McRae’s department store at Metrocenter. The company owns the former anchor store’s 240,000 square feet.

The former four anchor stores were owned independent of the overall mall. The mall has interior retail space of about 548,000 square feet.

Hinds County supervisors in February 2014 voted to borrow up to $8 million in bonds to finance leasing or buying Retro Metro space at Metrocenter. The plan calls for issuing about $5.4 million in bonds. The county doesn’t have offices in the space yet, but would as part of the deal.

The Jackson City Council agreed to the arrangement with the county this week.

The city makes lease payments of $40,583 per month for space that houses the Jackson Police Department’s Precinct 2 headquarters and the city’s Parks and Recreation and Human and Cultural Services departments.

Under the deal, the money that the city currently pays would go toward paying off the bonds the county would issue for the project. When the bonds are paid off, the city will have 60,000 square feet and Hinds County will own 40,000 square feet.

The discussion began last year about the city and county acquiring space in the mall.

“We were able to work something out,” Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber said this week. “We are currently paying a lease and getting nothing out of it. Instead of leasing, we will actually be acquiring 60,000 square feet of space.”

The city has about 320 employees working out of the Metrocenter mall.

Yarber’s administration said there are no plans for the city to acquire additional space.

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, https://www.clarionledger.com

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