Natchez — The city that is proud to be the oldest civilized settlement on the Mississippi River is also joining in on one of the hottest current economic development waves, construction of condominiums.
Dozens of high rise condo projects have been announced on the Coast, Oxford has found success with condos that another university town, Starkville, plans to emulate. And now the City of Natchez has approved a land transfer for a $19-million condo project in the downtown area on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River.
“Our condos are going to be among the most unique in the state because they will be located on the banks of the Mississippi River,” said Natchez Mayor Phillip C. West. “I don’t believe any other community in Mississippi has that. These condominiums will have beautiful views of Mississippi River scenes from the bluffs. These luxury condos will bring a more diverse group of residents, including people from outside of the state. This will make us even more unique.”
There are currently a few condominiums in Natchez. But West says none are of the nature of the $19-million Worley Brown project. Larry L. Brown Jr., Brown Properties, is partnering with Ed Worley, the owner of Dunleith Plantation and other properties in Natchez, for the project that calls for the construction of between 72 to 80 condominium units by 2007.
The city has given approval for a six-month option/development agreement with Worley Brown, LLC, for the acquisition and development of condominiums on the former site of the Natchez Pecan Shelling Company, which is located at the intersection of Broadway and Madison streets. The condos are expected to spark other economic opportunities for the City of Natchez.
“We think it is going to help the further development of the downtown area,” West said. “This will make us more attractive to other quality businesses that want to locate in our area. It is a major component of the kind of things we would like to have done in our community.”
Keeping in mind the city’s greatest claim to fame is its historical charm and character, plans are being made to make sure that the new development blends in well with the historical structures in the area.
West said the development will fit the trend across the country towards the popularity of walking communities, places where it is safe and pleasant to walk from home to shops, restaurants and pubs.
“This development not only will be attractive to outside visitors including tourists, but it will also enhance the community sense of pride by improving the quality of life,” the mayor said. “The project also will be a recruiting tool for quality businesses.”
The City of Natchez has owned the property for 12 years. West said a number of groups wanted to purchase the piece of property, and the city settled on Worley Brown because of its track record in the community and willingness to make the larger investment.
Brown said they are committed to bringing something new to the community of Natchez to foster economic development and growth.
“My partner and I love Natchez the way it is, and are sensitive to the past,” Brown said. “We feel confident we can make something attractive that is cohesive with the historical beauty of Natchez while allowing us to reach our goals.”
The project is still in the design phase with pre- sales expected to start in a few months. The goal is for every unit to have a river view.
“The view that is offered by the Mississippi River in Natchez is certainly unique and beautiful,” Brown said. “That is a key ingredient for us there. We are very fortunate to have acquired the site of the old Natchez Pecan Shelling Company because it is the only viable site for condos to look over Mississippi River in Natchez, and still be accessible to the downtown area.”
Brown said they are, of course, very familiar with the condo-building trend across the state and the country.
“There is a reason why there is a condo craze,” Brown said. “That is because people like that model, the overall convenience of condos. We think this is something new and different for Natchez. There isn’t anything else like this in the area. Based on our market research and input from local realtors and people who have come into the community, we have uncovered a real want and need for this type of development.
“We’re just real excited. We think Natchez is a jewel, and a project like this will add even more. We are fortunate to have the community behind the development. Everything we have heard has been positive.”
The units will be on one level in a multi-story building. A variety of different sizes and price ranges will be offered.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Becky Gillette at email@example.com.