Ambitious Designs For Pass Christian Recovery

Ron Ladner pointed to his house and said "You can see where the stucco's torn out. It just took the brunt. The water came through the house".

Ladner is still amazed that his home in the "Timber Ridge" Subdivision remains standing. Most of his neighbors didn't fare so well.

"It was terrible. If you look this way, all our neighbors are completely flattened.  And if you look across the way, just about everything's gone", Ladner said.

Hundreds of homes were also reduced to rubble along Scenic Drive. It's not so scenic anymore. Katrina destroyed 75% of the city's structures and wiped out just about all its tax base.

"I think we have a great opportunity to rebuild the city, to make it better than it could be", said Malcolm Jones.

Jones is the city's Chief Administrative Assistant. He worked closely with expert planners and designers, who recently came up with some grand plans to help his city recover.

"Not only is it a chance to start off fresh, but also a chance to recover some of the elements that we had in years gone by", said Jones.

That means building homes that preserve much of the historic charm and architecture that have made Pass Christian famous.

"Preserve the downtown area. We can create a mix use low-rise type of buildings. Mostly it would be retail at the bottom, apartments and condos at the top", Jones explained.

City Hall, also gutted by Katrina, would move closer to downtown. A trolley or bus system would replace the trains. And most importantly, bring back the city's largest tax generator - the Wal-mart Super center. But this store would look quite different.

"Try to do something that would be wrapped with a few stores. Possibly even residential levels on the outside, and then the Wal Mart retail would be on the inside. We think actually Wal-Mart is committed to returning", Jones said.

Ron Ladner is also committed to rebuilding. He's among the few in the Pass who have started repairing their homes.

Jones looked at the view around his house and said "Our heart's here. We love it here. My wife loves it here, and this is our paradise".

Pass Christian leaders say it's also important to redevelop the harbor. The design team suggested building a new marina, just east of the current one, to lure bigger boats and more money.

By: Trang Pham-Bui