PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - His designs could be the key to unlocking an economic boom in downtown Pass Christian.
"Folks are ready to get something moving," says Ron Ladner, co-owner of Shaggy's Restaurant.
Ladner is one of ten downtown land owners who put up nearly $120,000 to bring internationally-renouned architect Andres Duany to town. Duany will meet with the property owners and the public to draft designs for a new downtown in a series of meetings throughout the week.
"This is driven by the property owners themselves, so these guys have an incentive to not only buy into a plan but buy into something that's really going to work," says Ladner.
Mayor Chipper McDermott says this push for progress from the private sector is just what the city needs as it works to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.
"They own land, and if they can get an idea of how to put something there, that's going to be good for them and for us. The more sales we get the better off the town will be," McDermott says.
Since the city has already adopted smart code, a concept Duany developed to make communities more walkable, property owners say they're encouraged the plan will meet the needs of downtown. But, Duany says it's important people know he's only in town to advise.
"It's important that the people not feel that I'm trying to shove anything on them," says Duany.
Throughout the week, Duany will work with the land owners and hear from the public in a series of meetings as he drafts designs for downtown.
At the end of his week-long stay, Pass Christian will get a better picture of what its downtown could become, while property owners will get a better idea of whether their investment paid off.
The first meeting will kick off at the Boys and Girls Club off at 220 Church Avenue from 6 to 8 p.m.