New Urbanism’s ‘Lost and Found’ department (Lost Rabbit)

Neopolis Development LLC in Jackson, Mississippi, is planning to build a 260-acre traditional neighborhood development with a name no one is likely to forget: the Town of Lost Rabbit. In late July Duany Plater-Zyberk & Co. led a week-long charrette to lay out the 20-acre town center and the surrounding, largely residential component of the development, which is situated between the Natchez Trace Parkway and the 33,000-acre Ross Barnett Reservoir in Madison County, a few miles north of Jackson. Mark Frascogna, president and managing partner of Neopolis, said the company intends to develop about 20 to 30 live/work units in Lost Rabbit’s town center, which will have a small volume of retail and offices. The development will also include about 80 to 100 townhouses, about 50 condominium units, approximately 490 single-family houses, and “a nice village along the water” where a marina is to be constructed. A tennis and yacht club is envisioned as the principal sports complex. Moving outward from the town center will be three neighborhoods, all using Southern Classical architectural themes such as Mississippi Italianate, Greek Revival, and Louisiana plantation, but with three differing land plans. On the highest ground will be a neighborhood laid out like an Italian hill town. The second neighborhood will follow a classic grid plan, and the third will be more organic and Olmstedian, with bigger lots and probably no curbed streets. The company obtained control over the first 100 acres by making a $1.5 million lease payment to the owner, the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District Board, which authorized development through public bidding. The Water District had not zoned the land, so DPZ and the developer had a free hand. The properties will have leases that can be renewed in perpetuity. Why the odd name? Frascogna says, “A group of teenagers used to hunt there in the 1960s. They shot a rabbit, left it where they shot it, and when they went back to get it and cook it, they couldn’t find it. The parcel of land is so well known as Lost Rabbit, we figured why fight what’s already there.” Barranco Architects of Jackson is town architect. Site preparation is to begin this October. If the project is successful, Neopolis may use a five-year option to develop a conference center, hotel, and golf course on 170 acres nearby. An engineer named that property “Found Rabbit.” “It’s only known in a small circle as Found Rabbit,” says Frascogna. “We might change it.” Frascogna has spent much time in Italy and is looking forward to applying spatial concepts from his experience there. “It’s difficult to live in Italy and not be influenced by the idea of the outdoor room,” he says.