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VOL. 119 | NO. 105 | Thursday, June 16, 2005

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By Andy Meek

DeSoto Sees Rush of Commercial Activity

Major projects on table for Horn Lake, Hernando


The Daily News

The two large-scale shopping centers opening soon in DeSoto County arent the only items making a splash in the countys real estate pond.

DeSoto has seen a flurry of commercial activity of late, including new development possibilities for the Circle G Ranch in Horn Lake once owned by Elvis Presley, which ultimately will give rise to hotels, condos and two golf courses. In addition, officials in Hernando have green-lighted plans for a $120 million distribution, retail and office development along U.S. Highway 51.

Economic development. And yesterday, the DeSoto Economic Development Council joined three other groups in rolling out a new economic development program in Olive Branch aimed at keeping businesses in the state.

DeSoto is one of the counties thats going to be beginning this project, said Jim Flanagan, president and CEO of the council. Its a program where we begin to survey industries and determine some of their specific needs, see how that plays out in the overall structure of the state and hopefully provide additional assistance for existing companies. Its really a program to retain industries in the state and encourage them to expand.

The new commercial developments going up around DeSoto come in addition to two open-air shopping centers under construction in the county: DeSoto Pointe, an upscale shopping center being developed in Southaven by Utley Properties and Trezevant Realty Corp. that will open in 2006, and Southaven Towne Center, which CBL & Associates Properties Inc. will open in Southaven later this year.

Following residential. Merritt Powell, DeSoto County planning director, said current commercial activity is spread throughout the county though a large part of it is thriving alongside the hotbed of residential development in the east.

Our residential is happening everywhere, Powell said. Its more or less the location. (In the east) youre over there close to our industrial park, youre not too far out of Collierville, and weve got a lot of people who cross the line to work back and forth. I think thats one reason thats a hotter spot.

Weve also got good school projects over there, some in the process of being built, and some of the elementary schools were just built in that area. That always puts a little thrust to your building for your residential, if youve got good school locations and things like that.

Large-scale proposal. In Horn Lake, the current buzz is over developer J.D. Stacys plans to build a multimillion dollar golf and entertainment resort on the site of the Circle G Ranch, where Elvis and Priscilla Presley honeymooned in 1967. Horn Lake Alderman Brenda Carter said the name of the ranch, located at Goodman Road and Highway 301, is being changed to Horn Lake Ranch Resort.

Plans for the resort include two hotels, two golf courses and several condominiums, among other amenities.

This resort is going to be one of the big projects on the future radar, Carter said. There was so much scuttlebutt about this over the last two to three years and this is the closest they have come in the last few years on any activity or stuff like that here.

If developed as planned, the project should provide a big boost to Horn Lake. The citys coffers dwindled earlier this year when Dial Properties, which is developing the DeSoto Commons project, failed to pay the majority of an $801,900 property tax bill due in February.

Other projects. The 440-acre DeSoto Commons project in Horn Lake calls for retail, medical office, Class A office, distribution and residential space. Don Wilkinson, Horn Lake Chamber of Commerce executive director, said its at the forefront of commercial development in the town.

Carter said Horn Lake also will see the opening of several restaurants soon, such as Texas Roadhouse Grill and a new Applebees opening this month but the new resort is causing the most stir.

The man whos heading this up, J.D. Stacy, at one time he couldnt get all his investors together, then I think he fell into bad health, and now hes back up and has new investors and contracts for this, Carter said.

Hernando projects. Elsewhere, Hernando is seeing mostly residential projects at the moment, but new Mayor Chip Johnson said plans have been approved for Hernando Commerce Center, a large-scale business center that will have a campus-like environment.

Thats a pretty big thing, Johnson said of the project, which will include warehouse space on the west side, in the back of the development, and retail and office space fronting Highway 51 on the east.

Of commercial projects like it in Hernando, Powell added: Hernando is growing, and theyve never seen anything like it. They almost cant take care of it, theres so much going on in the town right now.

Among other projects to watch for in DeSoto: the completion of Interstate 69, which will run east from the I-69/I-55 interchange and cut across Highway 305 south of Olive Branch. Once thats finished, Powell said, many light industrial businesses will likely settle into that corridor.


PROPERTY SALES 207 263 9,865
MORTGAGES 197 246 10,862
BUILDING PERMITS 138 686 21,643
BANKRUPTCIES 0 256 6,219