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Groundbreaking of $16.5-million multi-use project anticipated

Hattiesburg — A May groundbreaking is scheduled for the Summit, a $16.5-million, multi-use project being built by Hattiesburg developer Nick Welch and two partners from Heritage Properties Inc. of Jackson.

Infrastructure work is also expected to begin in May, and the project is scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2006. The Summit is located a little over a mile from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) campus.

The Summit, composed of 108 apartments, a retail strip center and three out-spaces, will cover 14 acres. The project fronts West Fourth Street and the Longleaf Rails to Trails is adjacent to the Summit’s back line.
Johnny Wynne & Associates of Jackson is the architect and Heritage is the contractor.

“Nick Welch originally had the property under contract with another partner,” according to Jay Carney, Heritage’s project coordinator. “But my father and I set up a new contract with Welch and now we’re each one-third partners.”

Carney indicated that this is not a typical Heritage project, since the company normally “doesn’t build commercial stuff.” A typical Heritage project is multi-family housing only, and Heritage has more than 40 properties, with 6,800 apartments, from the Tennessee line to the Gulf of Mexico.

The 108 units will consist of 24 two-bedroom, two- bathroom apartments and 84 units of four bedrooms and four bathrooms. They will rent for $350 to $400 per bedroom.

Though Carney described the apartments as “student focused” and good for students, because of the four bedroom units, he added that they’re also multifamily apartments, the kind that Heritage usually constructs and manages.

Eight retail businesses and a drive-through coffee shop will make up the retail strip center. A bank, restaurant and gas station with a drive-through fast food restaurant will occupy the out-parcels.

Carney said that Heritage could not yet name any of the businesses. “Our demographics show that the market can definitely support such an apartment complex,” Carney said. “Students apartments are needed in Hattiesburg.”

USM recently announced the removal of 128 apartments from the 296-unit Pine Haven Family Housing Complex on the campus.
Other Heritage properties in Hattiesburg include Westover, Foxgate II and The Reserve at Parkplace.

Though located within the Hattiesburg city limits, the Summit is also in Lamar County (in an area annexed last year by Hattiesburg), and the county will benefit from $250,000 annually in property taxes, according to Fred Hatten, president of the Lamar County Board of Supervisors.

“And that’s just from the housing component,” Hatten said. “The retail component will bring in more property tax revenue.”

Just as all property taxes go to the counties, sales taxes go to the cities, so when the Summit retail businesses open, Hattiesburg will get all of that tax revenue.

Hatten indicated that the first phase of the Summit project is the county’s building of a new road through the property to be developed. Westover Road now bisects this property and will be closed when the new road is completed. The new road will have a traffic signal, which the present road lacks. The county has been securing rights-of-way, Hatten said, and now has all of the ones that it needs for construction.

Another road project in connection with Summit is the widening of West Fourth Street from two to three lanes, from the I-59 overpass (Holly Gardens) to Jackson Road. Lamar County has been awarded $1 million of a possible $5 million from the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA).

MDA will award $1 million annually over five years, Hatten said, and the county must match the $1-million grant each year. He added that all right-of-way acquisitions should be completed by the end of this year and that construction should start in 2006.

(This widening of West Fourth Street is part of the overall U.S. 98 Access Plan, which is intended to ease congestion on U.S. 98. The highway carries 60,000 vehicles per day.)

“There has been a tremendous amount of growth in Lamar County,” Hatten said. “It’s always good to have growth in our county. It shows that people want to live, work and play in Lamar County.”

Hatten mentioned Turtle Creek Crossing and, in saying that construction of the mall is running ahead of schedule, he cited the Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond stores.

“From Turtle Creek Crossing alone, we get $1 million annually in property taxes.”

But, Hatten added, part of the $1 million is pledged to pay back bonds floated to finance Turtle Creek Crossing infrastructure work, such as water and sewer.

Heritage Properties, incorporated in 1982 as a management company for multifamily property, has grown into a full-service real estate business that offers construction, property management, leasing and sales.

In addition to its more than 40 Mississippi properties, Heritage also has properties in Tennessee.

The company has won the Home Builders Association of Mississippi “Best of Mississippi” award for the past seven years.

Carney said that as project coordinator, he is involved in finding suitable sites, construction and following a project through to the end.

Contact MBJ contributing writer at George McNeill at mbj@msbusiness.com.


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