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Developer moving ahead with project near Raymond

Raymond — When former Ridgeland alderman Daryl Smith was looking for greener pastures on which to build a retirement home, he stumbled across a hidden gem.

Tucked in the corner of Dupree and Ratliff roads in Hinds County, located on the outskirts of historical Raymond, Smith discovered 148 acres of rustic property featuring rolling pastureland scattered with majestic pecan and oak trees, a pristine pond and a dense forest of hardwoods.

Formerly the site of the Edgewood Plantation, the property is adjacent to the Dupree House and Mamie’s Cottage, listed on the National Register of Historical Places, and borders the Natchez Trace Parkway. Because it is some of the highest elevated land in Hinds County, Smith can watch sunrises and sunsets along the tree line. He was already smitten with the site when he learned that, based on geologists’ reports, the soil is not plagued with troublesome Yazoo clay.

“I knew this was home,” said Smith, a systems manager at the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. “No doubt about it.”

Finding the right property, and taking a turn as a real estate developer, represented the culmination of years of study.

“I began researching the areas of Madison, Rankin and Hinds counties to decide where I would like to relocate,” said Smith. “In doing so, I discovered the secrets of the Raymond area. It was like small-town Mayberry. It had the convenience of Hinds Community College and Eagle Ridge Golf Course, and was only 20 minutes away from the state capital. It was an area rich in history and family community.

“The only challenge, I could not find any estate-size lots. But when I did find the acreage for sale, and since my basic philosophy is ‘life is a journey, not a destination and you should approach the challenges in life as an opportunity, not a deterrent,’ and since land development has been a personal interest, we purchased the land.”

Smith subdivided the property into 33 lots ranging in size from two acres of aged hardwood to six-plus acres of pastureland, retaining a 15-acre pond-side site for his own home.

“Over the years, my involvement with the City of Ridgeland afforded me a good insight as to the challenges with community development,” said Smith. “But, every major project has its challenges, and this one was no exception. Each professional service has its own timetable, which may not coincide with our timetable. County zoning codes and approval issues have to be addressed. So do local, state and federal issues. But the reward for each of these challenges is experiencing the realization of a dream and a vision coming to fruition. It’s like being an artist with color, a brush and a piece of canvas.”

Smith named the new residential gated community Cinnamon Ridge.

“When we first discussed the name for the estate development, as you can imagine, many thoughts came to mind,” he said. “To narrow the focus, we asked, ‘What do we feel, as we stand in this virtual refuge looking out over the pristine countryside?’ The answers were: a place to come home to, with family and friends, happiness, relaxation and security, plenty of laughter and good food. It gives you a feeling of the holidays. When I think of the holidays, I think of cinnamon and spices. And the rolling countryside is full of ridges. Thus the name Cinnamon Ridge, where every day can be a holiday.”

All infrastructure requirements have been met and zoning approval is expected by the end of May. Smith plans to break ground immediately after, and Bent Tree Properties, LLC, will begin marketing Cinnamon Ridge this summer.

“Without any advertising, we already have eight or nine names on our list,” said Smith. “A couple of people wanted to buy antebellum homes and move them to Cinnamon Ridge, but we decided against that. Our minimum square footage will probably be around 2,500. We’ll retain builder, architectural design and lot location approval. We’ll restrict the number of trees being cut.”

Restrictive covenants will mimic city covenants.

“We’re going to do it right,” said Smith. “We’re not going to have cross fences because it takes away from the countryside. Farm animals, dog kennels and that sort of thing will not be allowed. You won’t be listening to a bunch of dogs barking and running after you when you walk down the street. That totally steals the moment. The dogs in our community will be on a leash.”

Smith called on metro area subcontractors to help develop Cinnamon Ridge. Tom Bobbitt with TWB Planning Group, a well-known planner who designed Reunion in Madison County and several other residential communities and commercial developments, added his flair to the project. Charles Davis of Davis Engineering completed the surveying and road design work. A-Plus Signs will handle the signage.

“I’ve been spending every weekend in Raymond, going to festivals and other events, and it reminds me of moments from those magical ‘50s movies that rarely exist anymore, where you see the camaraderie of family and friends excited to visit with one another, homemade baked goods for sale …,” said Smith. “I’m just savoring the moments.”

Smith and silent partners have invested more than $1 million in the development, and are considering commercial opportunities along Mississippi 18, along which 11,000 cars travel daily. It’s an untapped area he calls a “marketing paradise.”

“I just get excited thinking about the possibilities,” said Smith. “But first, we’ll develop Cinnamon Ridge.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at lwjeter@yahoo.com.

About Lynne W. Jeter

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