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Hall still committed to retail developments

Pearl developer eyes upscale residential project possibilities

Pearl — Judy Hall of Riverwind Development is striking out in a new direction — turning her attention to residential real estate in building the upscale River Ridge subdivision on Pearson Road.

The booming retail mecca of Riverwind, situated on either side of Pearson Road, has already proven Hall’s talent at creating more retail opportunities than most people thought were possible in Pearl even 10 years ago.
She admits that she had to contend with a lot of disbelief when plans were revealed to develop a retail center including restaurants and a stadium-seat movie theatre in the Rankin County community.

“Being from here and born right here on this corner, it was easy for me to see how it would succeed,” Hall said. “I’ve been all over the U.S. promoting Pearl, and there were a lot of skeptics locally, too.”

So the idea for River Ridge, located not quite a mile down Pearson Road from Riverwind, seemed a natural extension of the concept to Hall.

“We felt as though a residential component would enhance it,” she said.

Hall has partnered on the project with Realtor Alice Little as marketing agent and contractor Mike Turnbow as project manager, forming a company called Riverwind Homes.
Little is known in the area for her success in marketing one of Pearl’s most upscale subdivisions, Country Place.

Little, who has been that area’s marketing agent since 1994, said that marketing that location to doctors and other medical professionals as convenient to the area’s medical facilities made a big difference in the desirability of the properties.

“I think it was all about image and perception there,” said Hall, noting that some of the 130 houses she marketed in Country Place are beginning to break the $500,000 level in value.

River Ridge features more than 100 acres, subdivided into 400 house lots, with a mixture of garden/patio homes, mid-priced homes up to 1,600 square feet and larger homes up to 2,200 square feet. All the homes feature architectural details, such as weathered brick, professional landscaping, ceramic tile in the kitchen, recessed ceilings and four-paneled exterior doors, Little said.

Plans are for the landscaping to hark back to the area’s link to the nearby Pearl River. “So far (for trees) we are going with the river birches,” she said.

Response to the new development has been good, particularly with the patio homes offered in Phase III, Hall said. “I think those are 50% sold already.”

Hall sees the development as giving young professionals with families an opportunity to trade up to a larger home yet stay in the area — an opportunity to fill a niché she thinks is underserved in the Pearl housing market.

But don’t think that Hall is abandoning the retail development sector just yet. Plans are underway for three more retail projects under the Riverwood umbrella:

• Expansion of Riverwind East, currently home to Pearl’s first Ruby Tuesdays, with plans for a 300,000-square-foot grocery center as the anchor just across from Riverwind on Pearson Road

• The Crossings of Riverwind, west of Bloomfield at the intersection of U.S. 49, Interstate 20, U.S 80 and Interstate 55, where Hall hopes to attract big-box retailers and an anchor department store

• Riverwind North, located across from Sutherlands just over the Pearl city limits in Flowood that should house a wide-ranging mix of fast-food and sit-down restaurants by late 2005.

Hall plans to continue proving the skeptics wrong — not that she believes there are many left, with the arrival of Bass Pro Shop and the minor-league Mississippi Braves on the horizon.

“Pearl is located in the right place, it has the right traffic counts, and it has a very pro-business environment,” she explained.

Contact MBJ contributing writer at Julie Whitehead at mbj@msbusiness.com.

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