A Leland Speed article in the Clarion-Ledger on Monday gave a sobering perspective on the office space market in downtown Jackson:

Today there are nine empty major buildings downtown. Rental rates and values have basically collapsed. I expect that Jackson has the highest office vacancy rate in this nation. 

For example, the Landmark building containing 353,000 square feet is empty. To build it today would cost over $90 million. It is for sale for $7.4 million.

Downtown fans hope to talk the State into moving the Department of Revenue into the Landmark Building from office space near Raymond. Sounds like a good idea, but things have been going south for downtown Jackson for years.

Remember when WorldCom had its headquarters in downtown Jackson? And SkyTel? And Deposit Guaranty National Bank? And a bunch of law firms that no longer exist or have moved north?

Sure the popping of Mississippi’s lawsuit bubble ten years ago had a major negative impact on the Jackson office space market, but there have been many other negative impacts over the years unrelated to the legal industry.

Imagine what downtown would be like if WorldCom still existed as a major company and had not moved to Clinton. Imagine that downtown with the Mississippi Braves playing in a downtown ballpark across the street from a modern downtown arena. With other tourist attractions like the Children’s museum and the Miss. Sports Hall of Fame all centrally located in the downtown area. That would be some downtown.

Downtown Jackson has had its share of bad luck and bad execution by city leaders. And I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but I don’t think getting the Iron Horse Restaurant back open is going to save the day.

On the plus side, we’re at the point where things probably can’t get significantly worse for the downtown market. Maybe there’s only one way to go from here.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting on all the jobs to arrive from passing tort reform. All the new industry from our business friendly legislation will fill the office buildings, right? It’s been ten years and the new jobs still aren’t here. So they’ll be here any day now, right?

I previously wrote about the Jackson office space market and how it relates to Mississippi litigation here and here.