Creating Community: The Walthall and Courthouse Lofts
Downtown living is receiving a considerable boost in the form of two long-awaited residential developments.
The former Edison Walthall Hotel is now The Walthall Lofts and the former James O. Eastland Federal Courthouse will become The Courthouse Lofts.
The developments were promised to Jacksonians as far back as 2015 and 2013, respectively, with apartment living and restaurants as part of the concept.
Project Manager Sunny Sethi, whose background is in commercial properties including hotels, took over the project eight months ago, “fixing and finishing.” With The Walthall Lofts 100% completed and the Courthouse project moving full-steam ahead, tenants have begun their move-ins.
Sethi’s goal is to create an authentic downtown metropolitan experience around the idea of community.
“What we are working to create between both buildings is a true community between people who work, live and play in the same area,” he said.
The Walthall Lofts
Featuring studio and one-bedroom apartments – some poolside – between 350 and 770 square feet, units at The Walthall range between $900-$1600 per month. Each apartment gives the feel of South Beach, bright and airy, modern and simple.
Tenants have $5 daily housekeeping services available, along with an access-controlled garage, a co-working style space with conference rooms, package reception, 24/7 maintenance and security.
“We recently went down the tenant list and just started calling, asking, ‘How is your stay?'” Sethi said, using the hotel lingo he’s familiar with. “They were blown away. I never knew that was such a big deal, coming from the hotel side where this is the norm.”
The Walthall plans to host pool parties for their tenants (of course, when it’s safe to do so). After all, Sethi sees this as “an apartment complex that functions as a resort.” There’s even a massage room on property and a barbershop.
A full-service evening restaurant with a bar (and piano bar) will anchor the first floor (where the original terrazzo flooring has been restored.) The former standalone bar will become a sandwich/coffee shop. COVID, Sethi said, has put a strain on securing those deals, but he assures, “We’re talking.”
So if Sethi thinks “The Walthall is cool,” next door, he said, “is amazing.”
The Courthouse Lofts
From the Walthall pool deck, a metal sky bridge crosses the buildings’ expanse to The Courthouse. The former federal courtroom, massive in size, will become the workout room. Tenants from both buildings will cross that sky bridge often, sharing access between those amenities.
Inside, every single apartment is different, some very ornate. Live in the former law library and enjoy floor-to-ceiling bookcases on every wall. Snag an old U.S Marshal’s office? You may have an original metal walk-in wall safe as a closet. Want a fascinating conversation starter? The unit with the former judges’ bench could be yours.
In the lobby, what hides behind the former post office boxes delivers for downtown.
The Courthouse brings a food hall concept, one that’s unique to JXN. The iconic “Grand Central Station looking” space features a central bar with four food vendors. Skylights above each line up with the food stations that will feature simple menus, five to seven items at less than $10 an item. Sethi hopes for known area restaurants to help create a destination – a comfort level – to “drive folks back from the suburbs to the center of the community. “Vendors will be “affordable, quick and inclusive.”
In the basement, an underground speakeasy will open to an intimate music venue and a “brewcade” – featuring old arcade games, fuse ball, billiards and a beer-themed bar – will be located across the hall. It’s membership-based to the public, but open to residents at no charge.
Sethi is proud of the amount of Mississippi he’s put into both properties. Local designers, local furniture makers, local artists and local tradesmen have poured heart and soul into the work here.
A Community For JXN
Sethi speaks about Mississippi’s “brain drain.” He hopes to entice more people to stay here – in JXN specifically – “to give them a downtown experience like a big city.”
For the effort he’s undertaken, the project hits even closer to home.
“This does not exist in Jackson. I did this because I want my kids to want to stay in Mississippi.”