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Harrison County project covers 4,600 acres

Plans for Tradition development entering final stages

With 4,600 acres, developers say that Tradition will be the largest master plan community in Mississippi. Located in central Harrison County, north of Interstate 10 and the Biloxi and Gulfport city limits, the property abuts Desoto National Forest and has access that links it with Interstate 10 and U.S. 49.

Joseph C. Canizaro of New Orleans acquired the large tract when International Paper Company divested acreage in the area. “This concept is becoming more popular. It’s commonplace in other states but is new here,” said Brynn Joachim, senior vice president of marketing. “We want to attract consumers of all ages through different products offered.”

She said Tradition was initially promoted as a retirement community, and while realistically about half of the marketing will be geared to that segment, the community will be amenity driven to meet the needs of all consumers. In addition to active adults and retirees, a large part of the marketing effort will target families, young professionals, golf enthusiasts and sportsmen. Tradition will convey an active yet relaxed lifestyle, she said.

“We will have the opportunity to attract a wide consumer base and the plan is to meet needs across the board,” she added. “The large acreage allows that.”

Developers have been trying to break ground at Tradition since 1988. Joachim and Leonard McMullin, senior vice president/project manager, recently came onboard. The development is now in the final stages of solidifying house and land plans, Joachim said.

“We have received final marketing studies and are working to finalize architectural standards and plans and a final construction timetable for model homes to be built in Phase I,” she said. “All the environmental permits have been secured and we’re working on a timetable to begin water and sewer development on the property.”

Phase I is in the northwest quadrant of the property, in the Highway 67 corridor. Joachim said a lot of factors will determine how many houses will be built but specific plans will be forthcoming. The development will offer a wide array of house plans from town homes to estates in varying price ranges. An architectural oversight board will review all plans.

“Interest is extremely high from the public. People are watching and asking about it,” she added. “That’s very gratifying and we have a large database assembled.”

Banking on the Gulf Coast’s popularity with retirees from the Midwest and Northeast, Joachim said regional and national marketing will be conducted in targeted areas along with local marketing. Harrison County’s status as a state-certified retirement community and all the area has to offer will be used as marketing tools too.

She said developers are pleased with the progress of roadways being constructed into the area and are appreciative of the support received from elected and regulatory officials.

“Tradition will be heavily amenitized. There will be a mix and there will be some retail,” Joachim said. “The future looks bright.”

In an April interview with the Mississippi Business Journal, McMullin said, “Tradition was conceived to be a model of the new type of development where the design would foster personal relationships among the people who live there. That would be done by downplaying automobiles.”

He added that residents of this type of planned community tend to own their homes half again as long as homeowners in other places because this type of development encourages a sense of community.

The development’s Web site states that the project received support from the Sierra Club in its national publication called, “Smart Choices or Sprawling Growth: A 50-State Survey of Development,” which recognized Tradition as one of 50 Smart Growth projects in the United States.

Canizaro, a native of Biloxi, is president and CEO of Columbus Properties of New Orleans. He has developed 10 million square feet of commercial space over his career, including high-use office towers, hotels and upscale retail, along with land and residential projects throughout the Southeast and Southwest.

Notable Columbus Properties developments in New Orleans include Canal Place, LL&E Tower, Texaco Center, First Bank Center (formerly the Galleria in Metairie) and the Information Technology Center Office Complex located at the University of New Orleans Research and Technology Park.

Canizaro is a trustee and former chairman of the Urban land Institute, a national organization established in 1936 to improve the quality of the environment as affected by the real estate industry. He has also served on the Harvard University Graduate School of Design’s Advisory Committee on Real Estate Development. Additionally, he is involved with many business and community organizations in New Orleans.

“He has a broad breadth and diversity in real estate and has national standing,” Joachim said. “He has strong ties to the Coast and is very hands on with this project. It’s extremely personal for him and an opportunity to give back to the community that helped him get his start.”

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at mbj@msbusiness.com.


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