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Coming soon: A new community

By Staff
SETTING THE COURSE Richie Camp tees off Saturday on hole No. 7 at Lakeview Golf Course, which could become a main attraction of a $35 million planned residential community. Cooper Land Development Inc. of Arkansas is designing the project which includes refurbishing the golf course and making it a private, 18-hole championship course for its residents. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
Dec. 23, 2001
John Cooper Sr. had a seemingly simple idea nearly 50 years ago: develop a planned residential community complete with lakes, recreation centers and high-profile golf courses.
The year was 1954 and the place was Cherokee Village in Arkansas. It was so successful that Cooper and his company went on to develop similar communities in Tennessee and South Carolina.
Now, Cooper Land Development Inc. is planning to move into Mississippi by building a $35 million community in southeast Meridian that could lure thousands of new residents to the area.
While some of the company's projects cover thousands of acres, Meridian's will have 1,314. Plans call for 3,000 single-family homes and a golf course all next to Long Creek Reservoir.
Company announces plans
Deaton and city leaders unveiled plans for the retirement development at a city council meeting Tuesday night. They made it clear that the company originally wasn't looking at Meridian.
Meridian, however, found the company.
Cooper Land plans to build its retirement community on what is now city-owned property. The company plans to pay the city $4.2 million over 25 years as part of a lease-purchase arrangement for the land.
The property also includes the city-owned Lakeview Golf Course. Cooper Land plans to refurbish the golf course, making it a private, 18-hole championship course for its residents.
In return, the company plans to construct a new $2.5 million public golf course just west of Highway 45 near Bonita Lakes' upper lake.
Before construction can start on new homes, Cooper Land must have the property rezoned for a retirement community. Then, Deaton said, the company must receive approvals from state and federal agencies.
Construction begins soon
After that, he said, Cooper Land will seek approval of the project from its board of directors.
He said the company could begin construction in the second quarter of 2002. Home sales could begin as early as the third quarter.
And then Cooper Land will begin recruiting families from all over the country to become residents of the new development.
Deaton said his company markets to most of the United States, especially the East. Most of the families who are recruited have heard of Cooper Land Development before, he said.
In the company's Hot Springs Village in Arkansas, he said, "there are groups of 10 families that lived in a Kansas City subdivision. Sometimes you get that where you have parts of subdivisions from around the U.S. transplanted to an area in one of our communities."
Golf course adds value
For the communities' golf courses, Cooper Land contracts with Ault, Clarke &Associates for construction. And Deaton said the relationship has been a good one.
Richie Camp, the golf course manager at Lakeview, said he has been smiling since the day he heard about plans for the new public and private golf courses.
The mayor agreed, adding that "you're talking about getting two championship golf courses here. One of them will even be tournament worthy. The spin-off of this thing just goes on and on."
Fredie Carmichael is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3228, or e-mail him at fcarmichael@themeridianstar.com.

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