By JACK WEATHERLY
A master plan for the Colonial Highlands traditional neighborhood is scheduled to be reviewed by the Jackson Planning Commission on Feb. 24, according to Bo Lockard, manager of a development group.
Colonial Jackson LLC filed the plan with the city on Jan. 11, Lockard said, adding that work on the first phase of the development could start in the summer, and be open for business in 2017.
Colonial Jackson LLC bought for an undisclosed amount the 152-acre former home of the Colonial Country Club, which closed in 2014.
The ambitious plan comes at a hefty price. “I don’t see how we can build this for less than $250 million,” he said.
He said that the project has captured wide interest among investors and that finances “have never been an issue with us.”
“We have plenty of (cash) and we have associations with pension funds, institutions, insurance companies, private family offices, and venture capital and have raised hundreds of millions of dollars in executing dozens of deals.”
Lockard, who primarily is a venture capitalist, said that the fact that he hired Steven Oubre’, head of Layfayette, La.-based Architects Southwest, which has 62 such developments already to its credit, speaks for itself.
The project will be carried out in five phases.
An extensive study by Zimmerman/Volk Associates Inc. of Clinton, N.J. filed with the master plan found that the 600 living units could be sold, or in the case of apartments, leased, in a six-year period.
Lockard, who is based in Shreveport, La., called the project a boon to property values in the vicinity and tax coffers for the city and county.
The study says the plan is “a rare infill opportunity” that “has the potential to attract target households that are relatively affluent.”
“Nearly 89 percent of these households (have) median incomes more than twice the $31,900 Jackson median income; nearly 47 percent are in groups with median incomes at least double the $36,000 Hinds County median income. Even the least affluent of these households are in groups with median incomes that are well above the national median.”
More than 60 percent of the 600 units, 363 to precise, are detached single-family. About 24 percent, or 147 units, are multi-family for rent. The rest are multi-family for sale, 32 units, or 5.3 percent, and single-family attached for sale, 58 units, or 9.7 percent.
Attached and detached houses will range from 1,100 to 3,300 square feet from $171 to $221 per square foot, which, the study says is comparable to upscale dwellings in Madison County, which in recent decades has taken the lead in homebuilding in the metropolitan area.
Apartments, which will be of the loft style, will range from 650 to 1,300 square feet and rent for $1.35 to $1.62 per square foot. “Mansion condominiums” will range from 800 to 1,400 square feet and sell for $211 to $231 per square foot.
“Typically across the country the architecture in new traditional neighborhood has reflected prewar 20th century revival styles as exemplified by the highly valued houses in America’s most prestigious older neighborhoods,” the study says.
And that trend is reflected in the Colonial Highlands master plan, which spells out in detail the styles that will be built, whether Georgian or Creole or Colonial. Details on porches, dormers, doors, windows, chimneys and the like are also included.
Lockard conducted a pickup tour of the 152-acre former home of the Colonial Country Club, which he says is the highest point in the area, hence the name Colonial Highlands.
The effort got off on the wrong foot to say the least about a year ago when residents of northeast Jackson, fearing a development that essentially left them out of the process, protested strongly before city officials.
The developers withdrew their proposal on March 25.
They returned in October with a plan in progress and several meetings with residents at the old clubhouse.
Key to building a relationship of trust was an hour-long presentation by project architect Oubre’, a proponent of traditional neighborhood developments, sometimes called new urbanism.
As a show of good faith, Oubre’ brought with him architects who were busy in another room roughing out sketches and schematics for the project.
The results were filed with the city last week.
Lockard said the time frame he mentioned was based on the assumption that there were no appeals filed should the city approve the plan.
Bob Gilchrist, an outspoken member of the Colonial Homeowners Association, who was instrumental in rallying residents to confron the developers in March, voiced some concern in one of the October meetings about the commercial aspect of the Colonial Highlands plan.
Across from two houses he owns on Parkway Drive will be the commercial aspect of Colonial Highlands, the 7.7-acre former driving range.
Lockard noted that the commercial land, buffered by small trees, will include a grocery and retail space and will employ about 100.
A fitness club is in the plans, along with living space for senior citizens.
The clubhouse, which Lockard said is “built like a tank” may not be razed as earlier stated by Oubre’.
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