Local developer Wayne Jackson said he is stepping up to plate with a new development project that could potentially solve an age-old complaint that many Richmond Hill residents have: ‘there’s nothing for our kids to do here!’
With his forthcoming "Jackson Court" development project, to be constructed on a 14-acre tract behind the Red Zone on Highway 17, Jackson and fellow developer Johnny Carnes will be building a laser tag facility and potentially other activities for children.
Jackson Court is still in the planning stages, but Jackson says the project may potentially also have a bowling alley, movie theater, or sporting facility with batting cages.
Jackson said the laser tag is a done deal, but that he is looking to others to give him ideas about what else to implement into Jackson Court. The plaza itself will be built with a Ford-era themed exterior, said Jackson. One of his finance partners, Woodlands Bank, has committed to having a branch established at one end of the plaza. Numerous franchise restaurants and snack shops are also projected for Jackson Court.Jackson has created an advisory committee made up of 30 "housewives, builders, attorneys, educators, and virtually all walks of life" which he meets with monthly to help him figure out what else the community needs for inclusion in this project. He is also encouraging locals to give their input, and says anyone is welcome to sit in on his monthly meetings in order to pitch their ideas.
"A lot of people here have great ideas, but nobody wants to listen," Jackson said. "As a professional, I’m going to listen to all the ideas I get in order to come up with the best plan for this project."
Jackson has also closely involved city officials as he approaches this project. When he and his investors went to Washington D.C. a couple weeks ago to check out the laser tag franchise, he took Richmond Hill Mayor Richard Davis with him. Davis also attended the recent meeting with Jackson and his advisory committee."
"My goal is to have the mayor and his people know more about this project than I do," said Jackson. "I want support and input from the city as well as any residents that would like to participate as we plan this thing."
"He has my full support," Davis said. "He’s trying to attract the type of businesses that would attract children of all ages and it sounds like it will be a good, clean, safe environment. I hope that he can get a number of investors to help him in that respect. Wayne has a big heart for children. He heads a special needs group for children and it’s a topic that’s very close and dear to his heart."
Davis said that he hears the complaints from residents about the lack of activities for children in the city. He said a big factor in this dilemma is our close proximity to Savannah "where there’s Star Castle and a whole host of other leisure activities for kids."
"There’s plenty for kids to do here on an athletic level," Davis continued. "Our rec association probably has more children enrolled in athletics then probably most cities our size, but all children are not athletic. We need something for those children to do and that’s where we fall short. For that reason, I’m very excited about this project."
Jackson said he is currently doing research on bowling alleys to see if that is a feasible option for the area.
Wayne said he would like this venture to be profitable, but that his main goal is to fill the gap of giving Richmond Hill kids something to do.
"I’ve never lost when it comes to helping kids," said Jackson. "I’ve always been well rewarded, and I’m not talking about money."
"He has told me that he would be happy if he could just recover his costs on this project," Davis added. "Not many developers are going to say that. It’s also not often that a developer would seek input from such a broad spectrum of citizenry. This project will be the first of its kind in Richmond Hill, so Wayne’s walking down a new path here."
Some of Jackson’s other ventures have included designing and building Richmond Hill Court commercial plaza (near Parker’s Square which contains Movies, Music and More), building a large number of homes throughout the city and his famous "Grill Zilla" which is a huge grilling platform on wheels that travels to countless charity events which Jackson cooks free meals for.
Jackson Court is slated to break ground within 90 days and open within a year’s time.
If you would like to pitch an idea for Jackson Court or even participate in Jackson’s next advisory meeting, which takes place the end of this month, Jackson encourages you to call him at 756-4045.