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Hot markets defying slow economy, driving development

Commercial real estate has a number of hot markets around the state that include large and small cities such as Jackson, Hattiesburg, Meridian, Oxford, Tupelo, Southaven, McComb and Brookhaven.

Regarding the types of property doing best, every area is different says Ernie Clark of Brookhaven, president of the Mississippi Commercial Association of Realtors.

“A good bit of it is condos; some is shopping centers. Brookhaven is a small town and is getting a new 50,000 square-foot shopping center. Commercial buildings and fast food are doing well here too,” he said. “McComb is getting three new motels. Hattiesburg is having one of its better years ever in residential and commercial.”

Because Gulf Opportunity Zone incentives have ended for areas other than the Coast, he thinks apartment development has probably slowed down outside the Coast. However, Clark feels that interest rates are still good for commercial development even though it takes more time to put deals together.

Hot and not on the Coast

Monte Luffey with Stirling Properties on the Coast observes hot and cool spots. Among the hot spots are: D’Iberville with the announcement of a large shopping center featuring national retailers; Ocean Springs with several mixed use developments breaking ground; and, U.S. 49 North in Gulfport where Sam’s Club is moving to a new location north of Interstate 10.

“Certain areas south of I-10 will remain strong,” he said, “places such as Edgewater Mall and Edgewater Village. Other things to support tourists will come back once construction on the beach road is completed. There will be more development north of I-10 to support residents. These are businesses that don’t want to evacuate or lose another business.”

Condo building has slowed to a crawl on the Coast. “New condo construction is hard pressed to get out of the ground now,” Luffey said. “Basically the new ones are ones that had started before Katrina.”

He does see more apartment development in the near term as housing continues to be a coastal issue. “People who can’t get loans to build homes will go to apartments, and we will see apartments building all over in the near future,” he said.

Multi-use buzz

In Jackson, Michelle Burford with the H.C. Bailey Companies is focused on Colony Park in South Madison County, a 430-acre development on the west side of Interstate 55 where the new Renaissance Shopping Center recently opened.

“It’s a lifestyle center where you’re meant to get out and walk around — stay and enjoy it,” she said. “It also has 200 Renaissance, a 13-story office building under construction along with three other office parks.”

The multi-use project is also scheduled to have a Hyatt Place Hotel and an Embassy Suites, both now under construction. The only residential component is a township by Kerioth of approximately 95 acres, a traditional neighborhood with a town center.

“Colony Park is very hot and there are some great opportunities there,” Burford said. “Lots of businesses are coming in.”

Office space in demand

There’s a lot of commercial activity in Tupelo. “There are tremendous amounts of people looking for property and a demand for office space,” says Shane Crausby with Coldwell Banker Tommy Morgan.

“There are a lot of requests for information and calls related to the Toyota plant, plus investors looking at properties. I think this activity will keep the economy stable.”

Quite a bit of retail development came into the area before the Toyota announcement. Crausby feels positive about the Tupelo area along with Pontotoc and New Albany where property is often cheaper than in Tupelo.

“The residential real estate slowdown had some impact and there were not quite as many commercial properties moving, but now it’s better,” he said. “The commercial industry as a whole is improving and people are feeling optimistic.”

On the line

phones have started ringing again at the office of Brown Properties in Southaven, says owner/broker Jim Brown.

“We have a mixture of new commercial activity in DeSoto County,” he said. “For instance, Olive Branch is getting two national drug stores, a putt-putt golf course, a hotel, a movie theater and a gas station. An oil company is expanding in Hernando and other industrial plants are expanding.”

Brown is seeing retail, industrial, distribution and small office space of less than 1,000 square feet being leased and sold throughout the county. He is also getting inquiries about land.

“I was concerned early in the year because the phone wasn’t ringing, but it started back in the spring,” he said. “It is a very good market but not booming like it was a few years ago.”

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.


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