The District at Midtown to open more shops

By HASKEL BURNS,

It’s been a few weeks since Fuzzy’s Taco Shop opened its doors on the corner of Hardy Street and South 31st Avenue, giving Hattiesburg residents a first taste of what’s to come at The District at Midtown.

Expect more soon, as the district – a $35 million mixed-used development at the site where the Elam Arms dormitory and parking lot once stood – is expected to see more new shops open in the coming month.

“I think (North) 30th Avenue is getting paved (Friday),” said Rob Tatum, the local developer heading up the project. “We’re turning over several spaces to tenants to start their work.”

Those tenants include Taziki’s Mediterranean Café, Southern Kernels and Asian Café.

“My understanding is less than a month (before they open),” said Tatum, who also developed the Hub City Lofts in downtown Hattiesburg. “I’m not sure if it’s 15 days or 30 days, but my understanding is less than 30.”

Following those are Pyro’s Fire Fresh Pizza, Chicken Salad Chick and Rock N Roll Sushi, helping to round out the 17,541 square feet of restaurant space at The District at Midtown.

Also included in that is The Midtowner and Midtown Donut from Hattiesburg restaurateur Robert St. John, who also owns The Purple Parrot, Branch, Crescent City Grill, Mahogany Bar, Tabella and Ed’s Burger Joint.

The Midtowner – which is expected to open in June – will serve old-style diner items such as omelets, waffles and pancakes, while Midtown Donut will offer gourmet donuts.

“We have planted our flag in midtown,” said St. John, who grew up four blocks behind his midtown restaurants. “The District (at Midtown) is a perfect spot for The Midtowner because of its proximity to region’s three largest employers: USM, (Forrest General Hospital) and Hattiesburg Clinic.

“We feel like there is a huge need for an independent breakfast with meat-and-three offerings at lunch. We also feel that Midtown Donut is perfectly located next door to the Midtowner. We truly feel like midtown is the heart of Hattiesburg.”

The site also will offer luxury apartments and 23,958 square feet of retail space, featuring shops like 5 Star Nutrition, AT&T, Hancock Bank and South Boutique, most of which are set to open over the summer.

Perhaps the biggest development at The District at Midtown is the construction of a 100-room Hotel Indigo – a boutique hotel with locations in the United States, Canada and Mexico – which is expected to open  in July at the corner of Chevy Chase Drive and South 31st Avenue. As each Hotel Indigo’s design depends on its neighborhood, the Hattiesburg location will feature a theme that pays homage to the Hub City’s rail and timber industry, as well as Southern Miss and Camp Shelby.

“Having a hotel of that caliber for the city opens a lot of doors for the university (and) the hospital for business recruitment,” Tatum said. “I gave the (Area Development Partnership) a tour of the fifth floor, and I think they’re just excited to have an opportunity like that.

“We definitely are bringing something that hasn’t been done in Hattiesburg – we haven’t had a new development like (The District) in a long time. I think we’re offering seven new restaurants that aren’t in Hattiesburg, all in one parking lot. And just having the condos we’re adding, and the hotel, I think we’re part of the first step of a big master plan in the redevelopment of midtown.”

The development is being undertaken with Tatum and his brother Craig – partners in CR properties – along with David Oliver, Joel Ingram and Hattiesburg architect Larry Albert. Construction is being handled by Probity Contracting Group out of Florence.

The District at Midtown is expected to create 200 new jobs in the area.

 “I really think that this development is just the beginning of a major redevelopment of that entire part of our city,” Ward 1 Councilman Jeffrey George said. “I think business owners and residents are very excited, and I’m looking forward to seeing the continued investment in Hattiesburg as we continue to grow and bring up midtown.”