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Lakeland Drive emerges as development hot spot

Kelly Dabbs said its growth is phenomenal. Rodney Chamblee said the corridor is booming. Tom Troxler calls it the new hot spot for commercial development in Rankin County.

Real estate gurus agree that Lakeland Drive is where people are moving — to live, to work and to shop.

“Lakeland Drive is poorly accessible right now, but it’s going to be very readily accessible in a short time to everywhere in the state,” said Bob Ridgway, who recently purchased three buildings on Lakeland Drive, including Lakeland Towers on intersecting Lelia Drive. “Go east on Lakeland and you wind up in Columbus. Go west and hit I-55 and go anywhere you want to go.”

Ridgway said the appeal is partly because of the phenomenon to “always have shopping and offices near the boss.”

“Lakeland Drive is a relatively clean corridor,” Ridgway said. “There’s nothing obviously in a state of disrepair except Danny’s. It would be best if Danny’s went south, way south. That’s the only thing I’ve ever heard (future developers) say about this area that’s negative. You get a nice bucket of apples and one rotten one taints the rest.”

“Lakeland Drive is just booming,” said Rodney Chamblee of the Chamblee Company, who has developed office, retail and commercial properties on Lakeland Drive since 1979. “We completed our first hotel, Sleep Inn Hotel, last June and will start on a second hotel next door in August, an extended stay 120-unit Hawthorne Suites. We just opened our first assisted living retirement center, Heritage House at Castlewoods, will soon start Phase II, with another 100 units.”

Last August, Alan Wilson, president of Howard Wilson Chrysler-Jeep, and Doug Wilson, president of Wilson Dodge, moved operations from separate facilities on U.S. 80 West in Jackson to a shared 80,000-square-foot location on a 15-acre site at the Lakeland AutoPlex in Flowood.

“One of the appeals was that 1,200 feet is frontage with more than 40,000 cars passing by daily,” said Alan Wilson.

Earlier this year, David Price and Ted Duckworth teamed up with Trend Line Corporation to develop the state’s largest open shopping center. Located near the intersection of Lakeland Drive and Old Fannin Road, Dogwood Bluff, a 400-acre mixed-use development in Flowood, will emulate the Summit in Birmingham, a totally open shopping center with approximately 700,000 square feet. Construction recently began and will be developed in several phases by Aronov Realty Management.

“The development David (Price) is doing will further enhance access by creating an interconnect between Lakeland Drive and Brandon that will be the intersection at which Profitt’s will locate,” said Ridgway. “In addition to opening up significant ‘landlocked parcels,’ it will provide access to about 1,200 acres that the Airport Authority has on the east side that originally was going to be for another runway until the Airport Authority decided it wasn’t needed. That opens all sorts of possibilities for industrial development that would relate to the airport, particularly with this new access. If that happens, then you have all manner of things that come about because of that — shopping, housing, all sorts of consumption-related direct and indirect benefits to the area.”

The $125-million Airport Corridor project, which will link High Street to the Jackson Municipal Airport, and is bogged down in the environmental study stage, will enhance Lakeland Drive, Ridgway said.

“Anything that makes it easier for people to get a car from one spot to another will make it a spot people will more readily house themselves,” he said. “It will provide an alternative access to that area of commerce.”

Funding for the project, which will include connectors to I-20 and to Lakeland Drive, has been provided, for the most part, by money appropriated under the Transportation Equity Act passed by Congress.

Jim Conerly of Jim Conerly & Associates in Jackson said there’s not a tremendous amount of office space on Lakeland Drive.

“What’s under construction isn’t necessarily commercial office space, it’s more retail,” he said.

Tom Troxler, executive director of Rankin First Economic Development Authority, said the Wal-Mart SuperCenter at Grant’s Ferry and Jitney Premier in Brandon should open this summer.

Flowood Mayor Gary Rhodes was on vacation and was unavailable for comment for this story.

About Lynne W. Jeter

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