Developers plan project across from new Ocean Springs High

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - By Steve Phillips – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The construction of a new Ocean Springs High School is attracting other new development. A group of local developers wants to build a mixed-use residential and retail project right across from the new school.

The proposed development is a "cottage style" community with small homes and a few select businesses, like restaurants, coffee shops and hair salons.

Developers are confident the new $60 million high school will be a real catalyst for growth and economic opportunity in that area.

Cottage Square is a mixed retail-residential neighborhood development, born in the post-Katrina charette planning process. The architect behind that project, is now working on similar plans for a five acre site directly across from the new Ocean Springs High School.

"We're looking at creating a gateway into the western side of Gautier, with the new Ocean Springs High School on one side and this neighborhood on the other, which would have several types of housing, some commercial and retail space," said architect Bruce Tolar.

The five acre site for phase-one includes several large oak trees and a picturesque lake. But it's the property location, directly across from the new high school, that makes this project so attractive.

"Right now, the first phase we're looking at five to six commercial, stick-built locations and then about 40 cottages like we have behind us here today. Cottage village. Right there, across from the high school, we are right across from the front door," said Scott Walker, one of the three project developers.

The new school, which opens in 2012, will mean much more traffic in that area and plenty of people.

"There's going to be 2,000 students at this school, approximately. Two hundred teachers. So, we have an audience. So things such as, whether it be an eating place, a coffee shop, a hair salon. All of those things," said Walker.

Project supporters say retiring baby boomers looking to downsize will certainly be attracted to such a development.  Plus, they say, the children of baby boomers should also like what they see in this project.

"We've always thought there was going to be a real demand for model neighborhoods like this. Small scale, compact, walkable, where people could live without a car. And sure enough, demand has increased," said project supporter Ben Brown.

Although it's across the street from the new Ocean Springs High School, the project property is in the City of Gautier. The next step for developers is taking their plans before the Gautier Planning Commission.

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