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Pickwick Pines Marina expected to draw more tourists

Tishomingo County — A recent study performed by the Mississippi Development Authority found that more than $7 million was spent by tourists in Tishomingo County in 2004, and that 150 county jobs are tourism related. The study reported that $2.8 million was spent on tourism-related construction last year in the county.

All those numbers will almost certainly be on the rise as one of the northeast county’s premier tourist draws, Pickwick Lake, is getting a new, multi-million-dollar marina complex, a project from the same company that developed nearby Pickwick Pines Resort.

“The new development will have the same tasteful design and construction that we used at Pickwick Pines Resort,” said David McMeans, president of Pickwick Pines Resort and Marina, who grew up on the land that now holds Pickwick Pines Resort. “We will work closely with the Tennessee Valley Authority to make sure the development is environmentally friendly and a credit to the people of Tishomingo County.”

Sailing along

Site preparation is underway for the 31-acre Pickwick Pines Marina, with a number of amenities planned that will be built over multiple phases. The first phase includes the construction of 150 boat slips, with room to expand to as many as 600 slips. The slips, varying in size from 30 feet to 100 feet, will offer such amenities as patios with unobstructed views of the lake, golf cart accessibility, pump-out stations and boat lifts, among others.

Phase one will also include a fuel dock and ships store, which will offer marine accessories, snacks and drinks, general merchandise, etc.

A second round of construction will include a waterside restaurant. The new eatery will offer both inside and outside seating and tie-up docks for boaters.

The third phase will encompass the building of up to 25 rental cottages, or villas, on the north point of the property. They, too, will afford water access, as well as swimming pool, fenced playground and grills/tables for picnics.

After all of this is done, Pickwick Pines Resort and Marina is looking to build a hotel and convention center complex. Lisa Hill, director of public relations and marketing, said the hotel/convention center was still in the planning stages, but a site has been set aside on the property for the complex.

The total price tag of the project, without the hotel/convention center, is $4 million. If the lodging and meeting facility comes to fruition, the project’s price tag would be approximately $8 million.

Hill said the boat slips could available as early as March 2006.

Building on success

David McMeans has been the visionary behind both the resort and marina development. In fact, he is the designer of both. And the company is counting that his vision for the marina is as successful as the one he has for the resort.

Site preparation for Pickwick Pines Resort, located on Highway 350 approximately 2 1/2 miles from the marina’s site, began about four years ago, with a grand opening held the weekend of July 4, 2002. A 24-hour, gated community, Pickwick Pines Resort has already sold approximately 200 homes, with as many as 200 more planned. Prices range from $125,000-$175,000, and the homes have proven popular with those looking for a second home, though there are some who have their primary residence there.

Amenities include a 7,500-square-foot lodge, two swimming pools (with a total of four planned), landscaping service and full-time activities director. In total, Pickwick Pines Resort and Marina has invested more than $6 million in Tishomingo County, and has sold more than $20 million worth of homes.

“Our attention to detail and our commitment to the highest quality has given Pickwick Pines Resort a rating as one of the best retirement and vacation resorts in the Southeast,” said company CEO Brett McMeans, son of David McMeans. “We intend to utilize the same marketing strategy at Pickwick Pines Marina.”

Hill, who has been with the company since the inception of Pickwick Pines Resort, said expectations have been exceeded for the resort, and the company is expecting nothing less of the marina. Others’ expectations are just as high.

“The new development uses our most valuable assets, water, recreation and tourism. We expect to see continued growth in tourism and tourism development in Tishomingo County,” said John R. White, chairman of the Tishomingo County Development Foundation (TCDF).

Tishomingo County Board of Supervisors president Arlie Smith said he feels “that the new development on Pickwick Lake will be an asset that the people of Tishomingo County will be proud of.”

TCDF executive director Gary Matthews added, “Pickwick Pines Resort has done a fabulous job of marketing their development. It’s been a tremendous success. We’ve seen the number of visitors and the number of weekends visited increase since they have come. I’m sure the marina will see the same kind of success, and it’s a big asset for the county.”

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at northway@msbusiness.com.

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