In one of my many posts yesterday I mentioned the Horizons development in Stone County going up in smoke. Like Pearl River County to the west Stone County has been a net Katrina beneficiary. Geography made land speculation inevitable. Horizons was the over the top project that smart money knew would never come to fruition but not so fast according to Sun Herald article source Gerald Bond:
Unpaid debts and a stagnant housing market are jeopardizing a megadevelopment proposed in Stone County, but county officials are hearing an auction scheduled for Friday will be called off because developers are going to catch up on their loan payments.
“I’m hearing from good sources that they’re going to catch it up, but who knows?” Chancery Clerk Gerald Bond said Wednesday. “There’s a possibility they won’t.”
Mississippi Investors VI, a real estate investment partnership based in Florida, announced plans in January 2007 for a community of 8,000 single-family homes in 12 distinct villages. The company has purchased more than 10,000 acres from various companies and individuals.
On Friday, 2,250 acres the company bought from Double A Firewood was scheduled for auction to satisfy unpaid debt. Bond said a second auction also had been advertised because of pending foreclosure, but he did not know how much acreage was involved.
Frankly I think this is wishful thinking. Even if they get enough money to keep the project on life support, it is doomed. The article explains why:
Stone County Supervisor Wendell Patton said the developers are proceeding with Beaver Creek Estates, which he said will have 498 lots on 346 acres. He said they have installed a water tank, drilled a well, paved roads and built sidewalks.
But Patton does not think the larger planned development, called Horizon, is feasible in the current economy. He said property was selling quickly after Katrina, and developers overbuilt. He recently learned 200 homes were on the market – a sizeable number for a county with fewer than 15,000 residents.
“This economy is going to drive housing into a slump, from what I’m seeing,” Patton said. “With fuel prices, jobs are going to start dropping off.” Fuel prices are hitting the county hard because logging is its major industry.
Real estate broker Paul Hardy, who owns Paul Hardy Properties, said property sales escalated in Stone County after Katrina, but have slowed down.
He hasn’t heard much talk about the auction, he said.
Smart money will be at the auction buying the land back. IMHO this is just the beginning of the bubble burst. Steve, the Florida connection rears it’s head again. I wonder if the Small Rental program was involved with Horizons?
Update: The project remains on life support. The auction is called off. Anita Lee has the Sun Herald update. Oh yeah, the plot thickens. Bingo Steve, MDA. Thanks Anita
By paying up the debts, developers Robert Windham and Mike Adkinson have avoided foreclosure on the properties. The partners in Florida-based Mississippi Investors VI have not returned telephone calls from the Sun Herald.
Windham and Adkinson previously courted media attention for the project, announced in January 2007. At the time, they revealed plans for 8,000 single-family homes, shops and offices, apartments and townhouses, and recreational amenities.
They announced the project in a meeting with the Stone County supervisors, appearing with Leland Speed, former director of the Mississippi Development Authority, and a representative from Gov. Haley Barbour’s office.
The developers said a year ago that they had purchased a total of 11,000 acres in Stone County and had other land under contract.