Gautier — Things are popping at Shell Landing to the tune of an expected $500-million development over the next seven years. Retired Friede Goldman Offshore executive Carl Crawford invested in this upscale development in 1999 and recently teamed with Azur International with a vision to make the Jackson County property something similar to Sandestin and Bay Town Wharf in the Florida panhandle.
“I see a lot of potential here. The Coast is on fire,” he said. “It takes time to make something like this happen, but the retirement boom has moved this way. Everyone will benefit, all the cities and from that the whole state.”
He feels the time is right to move forward with the upscale development. Currently, more than 40 homes are there — ranging from $375,000 to a million dollars — and a top-rated golf course that has maximum use. Ground will be broken this fall to build 200 condominium units that will sell for $350,000 to $550,000. They will be two-, three- and four-bedroom units. With no advertising, 130 of the 200 units pre sold in about 80 days and Crawford expects the rest to sell out in 60 days. JME Coldwell Banker of Pensacola, Fla., is the marketing arm for the condos.
“This is phase one and is the engine that will be driving this expansion,” he said. “We hope to go out for bids in 60 to 75 days.”
Crawford said many of the condos have been purchased as investment property. He held a forum for present homeowners to explain plans for Shell Landing and about a dozen of them purchased condo units as investments.
Over the next few years, he sees the entire development expanding to include a shopping village, swimming and recreation area, another golf course, golf village homes and more exclusive large-lot home sites. Shell Landing consists of 1,200 acres with 60 commercial acres on Highway 90.
“We need people living here before we can have retail shops, grocery stores, a pharmacy and dentist and doctors’ offices,” he said. “We want all the things on Highway 90 that anyone needs to live here.”
Shell Landing purchased two unsightly businesses near the entrance and Crawford says they have 30 days to clean up and move. Additional acreage will also be bought along Graveline Bayou for exclusive lots.
“You’ve got to dream big,” he said. “This is to be a planned development over a long period of time. It’s an entire community, but we want it to be a destination resort rather than just a subdivision that has a golf course. People can come here and play golf, but there are also many other things to do in the area.”
From the ground up
Crawford was an early investor in Shell Landing and partnered with investors out of Fort Lauderdale recently to purchase the golf course. He has now partnered with Azur International, a publicly-traded resort development company, and purchased the entire gated community. The purchase included 45 of 172 previously developed residential lots, 80 acres to be developed commercially and 800 acres for estate lots, resort villas, townhouses, condos and apartments. With only 44 home sites remaining at Shell Landing, phase two will be to open more lots for residential building. He says when completed, Shell Landing could have over 3,000 total units in it.
“I live here, so I won’t build anything that I don’t want close to me,” he said. “I want to include everyone because everyone will benefit. I’m getting cooperation from the City of Gautier and believe they’re very much behind it.”
He thinks the whole Coast is moving toward more planned development because it has the last of the inexpensive land available on any coast in the United States. “It’s all about timing and this is the time,” he said. “People are moving here.”
Crawford, 61, was part of the original Friede Goldman team that began with 25 employees. When he retired 17 years later, the oil rig renovation company had 3,500 employees. He was an owner and vice president in charge of marketing and traveled extensively. After retiring in 1999, he had about a year before he was ready to be active again.
He also owns a small machine shop that manufactures spinal implants. Through this enterprise he met a man from Pensacola who put him in touch with Azur International. He says Azur hopes to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange soon.
“In my work with Friede Goldman, I learned how to get help, and that’s what I did,” he said. “I found partners who can help me with Shell Landing.”
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at email@example.com.