VOL. 116 | NO. 195 | Tuesday, October 8, 2002
The Lakes at Bonne Terre ready for development
Scenic Bonne Terre readies for new development
By SUE PEASE
The Daily News
A new development in Nesbit, Miss., is poised to offer
homeowners the same type of French country and Southern classical architectural
style that the Bonne Terre Country Inn & Caf has made hospitable to the
towns business and leisure clients for the past six years.
Max Bonnin, owner of the inn, is set to begin development of
a gated community called The Lakes at Bonne Terre on 78 acres of
The residential community marks the final phase of a project
Bonnin and his late wife, June, planned for the wooded, rolling Mississippi
property they purchased in 1995.
This is the final part of a dream June and I had, Bonnin
The Lakes at Bonne Terre has been in the works for four to
five years, but it has taken time to find the right development partners,
Patton, Taylor and Ryan is the firm teaming up with Bonnin
to build the 78-lot community, which Bonnin envisions to be geared to
The unique feature in this whole development is the fact
that Bonne Terre, which exists now with the fine dining restaurant and inn, is
already here, he said.
So, its very attractive to people who are empty-nesters
who want to downsize and still look for quality. They can walk or ride a golf
cart over and sign up for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
For homeowners downsizing into smaller homes, Bonnin
envisions guests and family using the inn when visiting.
The development contains three sections that offer three
different parcel sizes: half-acre to 1.75-acre parcels around the lake; 1- to
2-acre lots; and a third, smaller, section called The Villas, which offers
The lots surround a recently built 7-acre lake.
Home sizes have not been determined yet, but Bonnin said he
thinks they will range from 2,800 square feet to 6,500 square feet.
Lot construction should begin in November, and lots should
be ready for viewing at the beginning of the year, he said.
He expects the homes to be complete in two years.
Bonne Terre began six years ago as a 10-room inn and caf,
and has evolved into a complex that includes a 15-room inn, fine-dining
restaurant, gift shop, chapel and Ashley Hall, a reception hall that
accommodates up to 300 people for wedding receptions, business meetings and
The inn is nestled among a setting of lakes, wooded trails
and pecan groves, an environment that attracts many visitors from the nearby
Memphis area for rejuvenating weekends.
What began as a destination for weekend getaways has become
a sought-after milieu for people celebrating special events. Bonnin said
hosting special occasions including corporate events provides 90 percent of
the inns business. International guests provide 10 percent, he said.
Because the inn is only 20 minutes from Memphis, businesses
such as law firms, banks and health care companies often use the facility for
off-site meetings and retreats during the week, Bonnin said.
The facilitys chapel, which was built in 2000, has resulted
in a bustling wedding and reception business for the inn.
Bonnin attributes the business growth and success to its
consistent quality over the years, and said the expansion realizes his and
I think June would be smiling, he said. I think things
turned out exactly the way we planned eight or nine years ago.
Bonnins wife was killed in an Amtrak train wreck in
Bourbonnais, Ill., in 1999.
Bonnin, who lives on the Bonne Terre property, is
considering turning his house into a day spa and building a home elsewhere on
the property for he and his daughter, Ashley.
In addition to the gated community, Bonnin plans to add 40
new rooms to the inn to accommodate corporate clients looking to book rooms
during executive meetings.
The new rooms are planned as a collection of cottages in a
Colonial Williamsburg design, similar to the style of the existing gift shop.
In the middle of the cottages, Bonnin plans to add a
conference center, which will accommodate 75 people.
While the gated community will be part of the Bonne Terre
property, the inn will keep its secluded atmosphere, Bonnin said.
You can access Bonne Terre by walking through the trees,
but it wont do anything to detract from the ambiance we have now, he said.
We are going to be very careful and make sure everything is
Although the gated-community is situated along a two-lane
road in rural Mississippi, local officials said they believe the community is
able to support a large, exclusive community.
Anthie Sutterfield, Northwest Mississippi Association of
Realtors executive officer, said Desoto Countys rapid growth is going in all
directions, and she believes there will be demand for the homes.
I dont see a problem with it, she said.