Southern Circle Homes Targeted By Development Team

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- We know the stockholders at the Great Southern Golf Club have agreed to sell their golf course to an Arkansas development team. And we know trustees with William Carey University have a deal pending with the same group. But what about the land owners in the middle?

Southern Circle sits between the two parcels. And this week, Southern Circle homeowners were approached about selling their properties to the Arkansas investors.

The neighborhood has about three dozen homes. Nearly half of them have for sale signs on them. Rod Leslie can tell you every home that's looking for a new owner.

"This house is on the market. That house is for sale," Leslie pointed out as he rode around Southern Circle on a golf cart.

"Hurricane Katrina changed everything," he said. "Everything south of the tracks has changed. And if you see somebody come in wanting to make this kind of investment south of the tracks, I think it's the best thing for Gulfport."

Southern Circle has a breathtaking view of the Mississippi Sound. But beyond its sprinklers, it also has some ugly Katrina scars.

"That's my house right there," noted Leslie as his cart rode near the north end of Southern.

His house is just a short golf cart ride away from the Great Southern Golf Club. And he's a stockholder.

At meetings this week with homeowners and golf club owners, some Arkansas investors pitched a plan. They want to buy Southern Circle homes and use that land for condos, hotels and mixed use developments. They also want to buy the golf course and refurbish its fairways and greens.

Leslie wasn't at either meeting. But, he heard details about the plan.

"I was very impressed with it because we need to sell the golf course," he said.

To complete the development, the 20 acre William Carey University campus would also be purchased and incorporated into blueprints.

The only two homeowners who talked on the record about the buyout plan both said if they got the right value for their properties, it seemed like a plausible idea. Rod Leslie even said he thought the proposal was in the best interests of Gulfport's future.

"Insurance rates going up. Losing our wind coverage because we're so close to the beach. So I think when everybody sits down and really reviews it, and if the offers are good, I think most of the people will sell," said Leslie.

The Arkansas developers have until December to buy the golf course, the college campus and the Southern Circle homes. And according to a golf course stockholder, if they back out of the deal after July 15, they lose a lot more money. Their Gulfport realtor told WLOX News all three locations are necessary if this development is going to work.