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Country Club redevelopers return, with a plan in the works

By JACK WEATHERLY

Nearly seven months after developers – under strong neighborhood opposition – withdrew their plan to rezone the former Colonial Country Club in northeast Jackson, they returned Tuesday night with a new approach: tell residents on the front end what was the intent.

Colonial Jackson LLC had dug in its heels and reserved the right to build an all-commercial project on the land it bought after the club closed in 2014, if it chose, though it presented no project plan.

But about 100 residents who gathered Tuesday night at the old clubhouse heard about a plan, even if it is a work in progress.

Architect Steven Oubré walked them through an hour-long “lecture,” as he called it, on New Urbanism – and the project whose working title is The Settlement at Colonial.

Oubré (pronounced ooh-bray) described the upscale mixed-use plan as a “town,” one of 62 that Oubré’s Architects Southwest of Lafayette, La., has designed since 1990.

Bert Green of Jackson, former developer and builder, said in an interview he is very impressed with Oubré, whom he called a New Urbanism pioneer.

Green, a member of the Carrollwood Homeowners Association, said he toured Oubré’s River Ranch development in Lafayette and was quite impressed.

“He’s the real deal,” Green said. As for the realization of the plan he said he is “cautiously optimistic.”

Oubré did not present renderings of The Settlement at Colonial for the 152-acre site, though a half-dozen architects were on hand in another part of the clubhouse busily making initial sketches of it, which Oubré said would be done by Friday.

There will be another public meeting at the clubhouse at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, followed by another at 6 p.m. on Sunday at which, Oubré promised, three-dimensional models of the houses would be on view.

Oubré presented a market study that shows that nearly 90 percent of its target demographic earns nearly twice the Jackson median income.

Prices of free-standing homes would start about $276,000 and “estate” homes would be between $500,000 and $700,000, he said.

There will be multi-family residences, also, but he said that the average price per square foot will be $1.16, which he said is “pretty high.”

He stressed that it would not be a gated community, but one with several points of ingress and egress.

Stressing a hallmark of New Urbanism, it is to be “walkable,” with a green space reachable on foot within three minutes, he said.

Two restaurants will be included and possibly a grocery, he said.

There will be eight home styles, all reflecting what Southwest Architects has determined is the Jackson “aesthetic.”

In response to a question as to how the community can be sure that what was being described is actually what will be built, he said a design will be presented to city planners for approval.

He conceded that the developers could change the plan, but that would have to be done through city channels, and that could prove difficult.

He said of developers in general – a role that he has played in the past, though not in this project – “you’ve got to watch ‘em.”

And watch them, area residents did earlier this year, pressuring Colonial Jackson LLC to withdraw its application to rezone the acreage to mixed-use from special use.

That came after what many thought was an attempt at an end-run to modify the zoning code and include mixed-use development in such places as golf courses and parks. It would have affected redevelopment of thousands of acres across the city.

Oubre’ said construction of The Settlement could start in about a year.

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