Go Zone Sparks Apartment Development

It rises from what had been woods in St. Martin, just off Lemoyne Boulevard.

"Grand Biscayne apartments. And it's 316 units," said developer Ike Thrash.

The Hattiesburg man who's financing this big build is confident these apartment homes will be filled.

"We built the Belmont Apartments across the street. And after the storm we had a thousand people on the waiting list at one time. I think it's settled down some, but the market is still strong. There's still plenty of people moving back in here," Thrash said.

Thrash could build his apartment complexes anywhere. But he's bullish on a Mississippi Gulf Coast recovery.

"I think there will be more growth here than there is anywhere else in Mississippi for the next five, six, seven years."

"It used to be real rural. It's not that anymore," said Barbara Mabry of nearby Fraiser's Nursery.

The apartments are sprouting up next door to the family owned nursery, which has been there 57 years.

Former woods are future homes and Lemoyne Boulevard is no longer a lazy country road.

"It's a big change. We don't look at trees anymore. There's going to be apartments over there," said Mabry.

The federal "Go Zone" is the legislation designed to spur developments like the new apartment complex in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. In this case, the "Go Zone" was more than a mild incentive, it's what made the project possible.

"Wind insurance, before the hurricane was about 300 dollars a unit. Now it's about 15 hundred dollars a unit per year. And the "Go Zone" credit is 50 percent credit first year, for whatever the cost of the project is. So, it basically cancels out the wind insurance," explained developer Thrash.

The Grand Biscayne apartments should open early next year. Rents will range from $700 to $1,200 a month.