There is no doubt that people are attracted to living on the water. But after Hurricane Katrina caused a huge amount of destruction along the coastline and waterways of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, a lot of people have opted to seek higher ground.
Work had already begun on Tradition, Mississippi’s largest planned community, before Hurricane Katrina. After the storm, it picked up a major anchor for the community when William Carey College (now William Carey University) decided to relocate there from its storm-battered campus on the beach.
Tradition wasn’t immune from the housing bust that occurred starting in 2007. But today the dream of Tradition is becoming a reality with 50 percent of homeowner lots in phase one of The Village at Traditions having been sold and 36 homes occupied.
“The Village’s safe central location 130 plus feet above sea level has provided two key selling benefits — peace of mind and lower insurance premiums,” said Gerald Blessey, president of Tradition Properties Inc. “With six years of Katrina in the ‘taillights,’ we hear it less as a person’s number one reason to move to Tradition, but it is certainly in the top five.”
The high cost of insurance is considered the number one impediment to home sales on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. But insurance rates at Tradition have decreased over the past year and a half.
“Our location north of I-10 helps, but reductions have also come as new products have been introduced that allow homeowners to build to a higher standard in order to reap the financial benefits of reduced insurance premiums over the life of their home,” Blessey said.
William Carey University is bringing a lot of students, teachers and staff to the community.
“Lifelong learning and education remain a key part of Tradition’s core community values,” Blessey said. “William Carey University has grown by nearly 40 percent since they opened their Tradition campus in August 2009. William Carey officials purchased an additional 20 acres in the Town Center in July 2011 to accommodate future growth. A third academic building is in the planning stages, along with student housing. Day classes in business administration, nursing, education, and art began in 2011, to supplement the university’s traditional nighttime class schedule.”
Since phase one of the 50-acre campus opened in the fall of 2009, enrollment has grown from 750 to 1,100 students.
One of the most attractive features of Tradition is the way it was planned around natural areas preserved for walking, biking and wildlife watching. People enjoy how much it feels like an old fashioned, family-friendly neighborhood.
“We absolutely love Tradition,” said Jessica McMahon, who relocated from Hattiesburg with her family. “The community is so close-knit that you instantly feel at home. Its natural beauty, parks where my children can play, and convenient location just add to its appeal. And having the YMCA just a quick walk away from our backdoor has been a wonderful addition to the neighborhood.”
Village residents, as well as those from the surrounding areas, regularly take advantage of a lake trail, boardwalk, and pedestrian friendly streets to walk, bike, and run, said Brynn Joachim, vice president of marketing and sales and a broker for Tradition.
“It is not uncommon to see people stop at the Discovery Center and unload their bikes for a family outing, and we love it,” Joachim said. “Tradition actually hosted the region’s first Sprint Triathalon in 2011 and was the site of the ‘Give Thanks’ 5K Walk benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”
The size of the community has nearly doubled over the last 18 months, with the largest sales volume to date occurring in 2011. Joachim said five homes are currently under construction, with another five anticipated to start construction sometime in the first quarter of 2012. Another 14 resident homes are on the drawing board. Three new model homes will open in the coming months by Pitalo Homes, Elliott Homes & Mason Trendsetters, joining the Westin Homes model home currently open.
For the second year in a row, Tradition was selected to be the site of the St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway. Elliott Homes is the builder of the 3,000-square-foot home, which will be given away June 17. The home will feature a third-story tower room with panoramic views of the lake and nature preserves. Tickets for the home go on sale on March 15 and the home opens to the public May 5.
The Tradition Family YMCA opened in December and features cardio and weight equipment, a classroom space for yoga and Zumba Fitness, a ChildWatch area and a six-lane, 50-meter pool. Santini’s Market & Café will be opening this spring in the Village Center featuring unique specialty foods and grocery staples.
The 650-acre site has been master-planned into the several key districts: University Village, Health & Education Center, Research/Light Industrial Business Center, Retail Center, Civic Center and Mixed-Use District.
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