TNDs move forward on Gulf Coast

Two large-scale traditional neighbor- hood developments (TNDs) are moving forward near the Gulf Coast in Mississippi, taking advantage of a high demand for housing in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The first of their kind in the region, the TNDs will test market demand for new urban development — a major component of the recovery plan for coastal communities. Both projects were planned prior to Katrina. The Town of Stennis is a new town with 2,000 acres in Hancock County, near Bay St. Louis. The first phase of 780 acres includes a town center and three neighborhoods with up to 2,300 housing units, according to Milt Rhodes, project manager with designer Dover, Kohl & Partners. Dover Kohl is working with the county to create a TND ordinance that will be consistent with the SmartCode. Many of the cities on the coast, including Bay St. Louis, are considering adopting versions of the SmartCode (Pass Christian has already done so). Even without TND approvals in place, the developer, a family enterprise named Stennis Technology Park Inc., plans to break ground on parts of the land by the end of January, Rhodes says. Because of perceived market demand, the project is on a very fast track, he adds. Immediately after the storm, the developer had planned to reserve lots for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) temporary housing, but now FEMA units are not planned in Town of Stennis, Rhodes says. The strong demand for market-priced housing was a factor in the change of plans. Rhodes believes the emergency units will be built in the coastal cities instead. Tradition, in Harrison County north of Biloxi, has 1,000 units planned for the first 327-acre village. The 85-unit first phase is breaking ground, Steve Oubre, principal of project designer Architects Southwest, told New Urban News. The entire Tradition project will have up to 30,000 residents on 4,600 acres, according to reports in the Biloxi Sun Herald. Gerald Blessey, former Biloxi mayor, is president of Tradition Properties, the developer. The owner is Joe Canizaro of New Orleans, the Sun Herald reports. The first village has an interconnected network of streets and village center on a lake. Entitlements were recently granted to proceed with the plan, Oubre says.