Recent projects show downtown’s creative potential

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, December 4, 2011

   With several projects in various stages of progress,downtown Brookhaven has been abuzz with activity in recenttimes.


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    Many visitors during Tuesday’s open house got their first look atthe inside of the new Inn on Whitworth, a hybrid hotel/apartmentcomplex developed by a group of local investors.

    The catchphrase for the project, “Where art and architecture meetSouthern hospitality,” is certainly appropriate as much of theartwork was created specifically for the interior of the renovatedhistoric building that dates to the early 1900s. And those stayingin the hotel portion can certainly expect a healthy serving ofSouthern hospitality from the staff.

    Project leaders said all the upstairs apartments are spoken for andhotel reservations are starting to be made. An official grandopening and ribbon cutting ceremony is expected to be held laterthis month.

    While establishments with such amenities as the Inn on Whitworthmay be unexpected, the project illustrates the potential to be ableto capitalize on the unique flair and appeal that downtownBrookhaven has to offer.

    Also this past week, community leaders gathered for a ribboncutting to celebrate the opening of the new Dungan Engineeringoffices near the government complex.

    Construction on the 5,000 square feet building began in June andwas completed in September, with employees starting to move inshortly thereafter. Engineering firms may not be the most publiclyused facilities, but the Dungan facility represents a biginvestment in Brookhaven and a welcome addition to its downtownlandscape.

    Of course, having good food available is an important aspect ofmaintaining an area’s appeal.

    To that end, Gregg Woodcox is bringing an old favorite place backto life with a new name and menu.

    Woodcox, who has worked as a chef at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel inNew York City, is planning to have The Iron Horse open beforeChristmas in the old Inez Restaurant location. He said his goal isto offer fine dining but at a price that is not expensive.

    Much of downtown Brookhaven’s revitalization, which has includedother spaces renovated for apartments and the opening of severalretail establishments, is related in some way to the MississippiSchool of the Arts.

    In that sense, Brookhaven serves as a good example of a “creativeeconomy.” Fostering “creative economies” was the focus of a meetingWednesday on the arts school campus with the Mississippi ArtsCommission and the Mississippi Development Authority.

    The consensus among attendees was that MSA can be pivotal inboosting Brookhaven’s arts-oriented economic attendees. Alsoacknowledged was the tremendous creative potential in Brookhaven,but also a need for it to be properly cultivated and utilized.

    With their recently completed projects and those in the works,developers are being creative in their visions for downtown. Theyare laying the groundwork and charting a potential course forothers to follow.