Developer says concrete best for Coast houses

Published 4:52 pm Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The answer to the Gulf Coast’s hurricane problem may be concrete housing, according to officials with American Shelter Corporation.

The Amory firm plans to build a 62-home subdivision on 13.5 acres in Jackson County, said company spokesman David Hawkins.

Hawkins said the neighborhood will be based on “new urban” designs and thinking, which mean homes are built on smaller lots, which require less maintenance and mowing. Residents share common facilities such as park and play spaces.

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Hawkins said the homes are difficult to burn and can withstand a major hurricane. Those things lead to discounted insurance rates, he said.

The average price of the homes in the neighborhood will be around $170,000, Hawkins said. However, he said the way the home is built and its low insurance and maintenance costs make the home affordable to families at an average monthly payment of $1,500 per home.

Jackson County Planning Commissioner Larry Hammonds said he was impressed with the concept but not the price.

“It’s a nice concept,” he said.

Hammonds said older residents particularly might like the low-maintenance aspects of the neighborhoods. “There is a place for this kind of housing in Jackson County. A lot of people don’t want a big yard,” he said.

The original plan was to build 431 homes in seven gated communities, but the property chosen by the company was mainly wetlands, allowing them to only build on the northern quarter of the land.