A vacant historic building in Downtown Jackson will soon be filled with art, dance, theatre and music! At their meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 8, the Jackson City Council approved a $500,000 offer from the Jackson School of the Arts (JSA) to purchase the former Vermeulen’s Furniture building at 135 W. Cortland Street.
JSA is a long-established non-profit that specializes in art, dance, theatre and music programming for local children. With hopes of starting classes in the building in fall 2021, the school is now moving forward with further plans to make the downtown location their new home. Plans call for community space and an incubator kitchen on the first floor, along with classroom space on the second and third floors.
Since buying the property in 2017, the City of Jackson has invested more than $2 million to bring the building back to usable condition. Currently located in a cramped building north of Downtown Jackson, JSA worked with the City to find a new home in the heart of Jackson. “We’re very excited to be moving into this new space, which will be a perfect fit for our growing needs,” said Carolyn Moser, JSA Executive Director. “This is the result of a close collaboration between the City and JSA.”
Mayor Derek Dobies, who supported the purchase agreement with five other councilmembers, says bringing JSA to Downtown Jackson has been a goal of the City Council for several years. “Our work with JSA does not stop here. Myself and many others on the council support an incubator kitchen in the new building that will foster the development of local food businesses. This is a great collaboration between the City and a non-profit that’s widely known in the community,” Mayor Dobies said.
Having the arts school in this new location is also expected to generate more people coming downtown to do business. “With 1,800 students enrolled, there’s about 900 parents a week that will be visiting downtown. This is going to be a success shared by every business downtown,” said Third Ward City Councilmember Jeromy Alexander.
The City-owned Masonic Temple property next to Vermeulen’s remains vacant. Efforts are ongoing to attract a buyer for this property.