An abandoned Holiday Inn site is being transformed into a new affordable housing and health care development in Jackson, Mississippi.
Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba recently joined real estate developer Gulf Coast Housing Partnership (GCHP), co-developer Pearl Street Community Development Corp. (CDC), and UnitedHealthcare at a groundbreaking ceremony for the $28 million development.
“This satisfies two vital needs for the city of Jackson at the same time,” Lumumba said. “First, it will provide needed medical care for our residents. Second, it will redevelop and renovate a highly visible section of our city that has suffered from years of neglect and blight. These are the kind of projects and partnerships we seek to elevate in our pursuit of an economy based on the dignity of all residents.”
The Pearl will have 76 one- and two-bedroom apartments reserved for seniors 55 or older. The community is designed with elements that facilitate aging in place, including a pool, a fitness center, and a community room. The Pearl will be the first Fitwel-certified building in Mississippi, according to the team. Fitwel is a building rating system created by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to guide building design. At The Pearl, this includes the prominent placement of walkways and stairwells to encourage movement and improve the health of building occupants.
Jackson Hinds Comprehensive Health Center (JHCHC) will operate an onsite Federally Qualified Health Center and employ community health care workers that will serve both residents of The Pearl and the surrounding community. JHCHC is the largest provider of primary health care services to low-income, underinsured, and uninsured individuals in Mississippi.
Samuel H. Boyd, the pastor of Pearl Street African American Methodist Church and executive director of Pearl Street CDC, said that the desire to create senior housing in Southwest Jackson first came to him as a vision in 2007. Seven years later, in 2014, the property on Highway 80 was listed for sale, and he saw this as an answer to his prayers.
“I thank God for the faithful members of Pearl Street Church, Pearl Street CDC, and community leaders who helped us purchase this property,” Boyd said. “I am also thankful for our developer, GCHP, and our partners and investors for believing in the vision to help make it come to fruition today.”
The Pearl is one of two pilot projects under GCHP’s Health + Housing concept, which recognizes the significant role quality affordable housing and access to culturally competent health care has on an individual’s health outcomes. The health care delivery model is inspired by the learnings of Mississippi physician and health care visionary Dr. Aaron Shirley.
Health + Housing utilizes investments provided by health care payors, including Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), to help fund projects like The Pearl. In Jackson, UnitedHealthcare is supporting The Pearl with an investment of $3 million as part of its commitment to affordable housing and health care in Mississippi.
“It is our goal to ensure our members have the housing, health care, and employment necessary to live healthier lives and thrive in their communities,” said J. Michael Parnell, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Mississippi. “This development is a proven way to provide access to many things that are essential to them, and it is driven by formative research, consumer behaviors, and patient needs.”
GCHP’s Health + Housing concept received national recognition in August 2020 when the developer was selected as one of six winners out of 900 applicants in the national Housing Affordability Breakthrough Challenge sponsored by Wells Fargo and Enterprise Community Partners.
“GCHP’s mission to create affordable housing and stronger communities throughout the Gulf Coast is only possible through our partnerships,” said Kathy Laborde, GCHP president and CEO. “Together we will be able to transform this property and will improve the health outcomes for the residents of The Pearl and the surrounding community. “
Additional funding support for The Pearl is being provided by the city of Jackson, Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, Federal Home Bank of Dallas, Hinds County Board of Supervisors, Mississippi Home Corp., Mississippi Regional Housing Authority VI, Regions Bank, and Trustmark Bank.
GCHP hired Snyder Environmental & Construction, Fountain Construction, and McCarty Architects for The Pearl, which has an estimated completion date of fall 2023.