By JACK WEATHERLY
Bo Lockard said last July he could see the future of Colonial Highlands spread out before him.
Conversations with potential developers of the 152-acre former home of the Colonial Country Club as a $250 million village of upscale residences and retail shops had begun, he said.
“We are working toward negotiating contracts by the end of the summer,” Lockard said in an interview.
Then a glitch. Negotiations with Walmart for a 35,000-square-foot grocery in the commercial portion of the project fell through last fall. At that point, a Speed Commercial Real Estate for-sale sign was put up on the old driving range, where the retail aspect of the plan is to be built. Recently a CBRE for-sale sign has been put up on the property along Old Canton Road.
Numerous calls and emails over the past month to Lockard, manager of Colonial Jackson LLC, and Rob Hydeman, another principal in the partnership, as well as local real estate brokers have led to no new information.
Neel-Schaffer engineering of Jackson said Tuesday that it has not been in touch with the principals in Colonial Jackson LLC for at least six months, after doing some preliminary work and a traffic study.
The plan was developed with an in-depth study by Zimmerman/Volk Associates of Clinton, N.J.
Zimmerman/Volk says on its website that it is “recognized by the leading practitioners of the New Urbanism as the national expert on the market feasibility of urban redevelopment and New Urbanist communities.”
The design of the various, but invariably traditional, home styles was done by a leader in the New Urbanism movement, architect Steven Oubre’ of Lafayette, La.
Interest rates are at or near historical lows and construction is on the upswing.
The plan calls for 636 living units, most of which would be free-standing homes, along with attached homes and apartments for sale or lease.
The effort to build out the land had a stormy beginning.
Initially, in 2015, the developers sought to have the city change its zoning code to allow mixed-use development on land zoned for special use, such as parks, hospitals, churches and golf courses. That would have allowed commercial development in those lands without public hearings.
But that approach was dropped after a showdown at City Hall with an angry crowd of residents convinced City Council members that was not a good approach.