Today’s Then and Now is a lesson in the life-cycle of hotels in our throw-away society. If you’ve driven down I-55 in Jackson recently, you’ve seen the former Sheraton Motor Inn just north of the Northside Drive exit, but you may have passed it right by, as I did for many years before realizing what I was looking at. That stone entrance area long drew my eye, but it took seeing this postcard image of the Sheraton in its heyday for me to recognize that the clunky gable porte cochere may actually be hiding a fabulous . . . well, our resident architects or Thomas Rosell will have to give a name to this type of roof. All I know is that it’s fabulous and that it probably poured water straight into the building, which is no doubt why it’s been covered.
Typically, hotels have a life cycle of about 20 years, after which, they pass to new owners and go down a notch, then repeat after another ten years, and then you get to Select 10, which, according to newspaper reports, has been repeatedly cited for code violations in the last year or two, along with numerous crime reports. This is why I am deeply hesitant to endorse the insertion of any new hotel, no matter how lux it may be, into a historic area, and why I am concerned about the recent proposal to build a 9-story hotel tower behind Fondren’s iconic Kolb’s Cleaners. Leaving aside the enormous height problem that I think will overwhelm the Kolbs building, my experience is that it is only a matter of time before the hotel will go from asset to a liability for the surrounding neighborhood. And a 9-story tower is even more of a liability than a sprawling roadside motel because it’s hard to convert or even to demolish.
As for the Sheraton/Select 10, I think with some money and vision, it could become a cool and maybe even swanky retro hotel again. If so, I hope they bring that wonderful porte cochere back.