For the many alumni and supporters who haven’t been able to get local hotel accommodations during homecoming and home game weekends at Grambling State University, a solution is on the way!
A new retail plaza that will be anchored by a state-of-the-art, 120-room hotel and a full-service grocery store is expected to begin construction by July 2016.
The plaza, which will be named Legends Square in honor of Grambling greats Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, Eddie Robinson, Collie J. Nicholson and Frederick Hobdy, will be located in the northeast section of the city on 9.28 acres near the I-20 exit.
The hotel will be a part of a national chain and will be decorated with pictures and memorabilia of the 60 current Grambling Hall of Fame inductees. The 25,000-square-foot Sullivan’s Grocery Store will also include a deli and a full-service pharmacy. The grocery chain is based in Brookhaven, Miss.
Other future tenants include Pizza Hut, Dollar Tree and Hibbett Sports. There will also be a 5,000-square-foot, dine-in restaurant located in the plaza.
“Developing this plaza is another important step in ensuring that our city meets the needs of its citizens and visitors,” said Mayor Edward R. Jones. “Along with the goods and services that these businesses will bring, there will be at least forty-three new jobs for those living here.”
According to Jones, the state provided a $430 thousand loan to bring infrastructure to the site. If 43 local residents are hired, the loan will be forgiven and the city will not have to repay it.
“That’s $10 thousand for every Grambling citizen hired,” he said.
The state also approved the site as a tax incremental financing district, which will allow all sales taxes to remain in the city for future infrastructure and construction.
With no outside investors, the city received additional funding through the New Markets Tax Credit, a federal program designed to increase the flow of capital to businesses and low income communities by providing modest tax incentives. This, according to Jones, “will significantly enhance our sales tax and property tax revenues.”
“We are excited about this project because it means economic development in our city,” Jones said. “Hopefully, these new businesses and added jobs will entice more of our young people to not only come to our city to attend the university, but also to settle here and make our city their home. For those students interested in business, entrepreneurship, hotel/restaurant management and other related careers, there will be opportunities for internships and employment.”
Kimble Development Company of Baton Rouge is the architect and developer of the retail plaza. The company currently owns and manages 20 shopping centers throughout Louisiana and Mississippi.