Over the past 15 years, the subdivision of Reunion has become the place to call home for many Madison County residents.
Although the development is almost two decades old, it continues to add new homes and amenities for residents.
Official planning for the 2,100 acres began in 1999, and the first dirt turning occurred in 2001. Now, the neighborhood has 800 occupied homes, and there is still room for 1,500 more.
The idea began with David Nutt of David Nutt and Associates, who bought interest in the property in the 1990s.
“This property is 2,100 acres here, (and it) was owned by two families. It was passed down over the years… One of the family members was actually living in the white house in front (located at the main entrance of the subdivision off Mississippi Highway 463).”
Nutt heard the property owner wished to sell his interest, so Nutt bought approximately 10 percent interest in the entire 2,100 acres.
Over a period of five years, the other owners of the property became willing to sell so Nutt bought the entire property.
“My son and his friends, we had a little hunting club there. I honestly intended to just pass the acreage on to my kids. I’d never done any real estate development before.”
However, Madison residential development continued to progress down Highway 463, and Nutt knew it was an opportunity he couldn’t miss.
“It became obvious that development was going to start happening very quickly, and what you don’t want to have happen is have progress just pass you by. The other thing you don’t want to do is start selling off pieces, because you’ve got no control over the quality of the land use,” Nutt said.
Nutt and Ernest Coward, chief financial officer of Nutt and Associates, investigated what they could do to begin developing the property and met with Buster Bailey of H.C. Bailey Companies.
After some time, Nutt, Coward, and Vice President of Reunion Inc. Keith Kent continued the development together.
“We understood how it works so we started doing it ourselves… ”
Nutt said soon after the project began, many amenities were envisioned for the up-and-coming subdivision.
“We really wanted to make Reunion a premiere development,” Nutt said. “Not only in Mississippi, but in the South.”
With the 800 currently occupied homes and approximately 75 more being developed, Reunion has 400 acres of lake as well as additional greenspace, approximately seven miles of walking trail, community swimming pools, play areas, and beach areas on the lake.
There is also an equestrian center — which can board up to 56 horses — an 18-hole championship golf course, tennis, a fitness center, and a new clubhouse underway.
“All that was planned from the get-go,” Nutt said. “We also envisioned a full-service, very modern, family-oriented country club.”
The clubhouse should be open by spring 2018. Construction was originally scheduled to begin 10 years ago, but the 2008 recession posed a roadblock for the developers.
“It really set us back at least six years to be able to actually plan and carry out and build the 33,000 square-foot clubhouse.”
The majority of the clubhouse, 28,000 square feet, will be heated and cooled. The remaining 5,000 square feet will be comprised of various porches and entryways, said Kent.
The golf club is managed by Troon LLC, the largest golf and country club managers and owners in the world, according to Nutt. The organization helped design the new clubhouse.
The new clubhouse will have expanded fitness facilities, an enlarged day care, a post-workout smoothie and supplement bar, a formal and an informal dining area, and a full-service spa that includes manicures, pedicures, facials, botox, treatments and more.
“I think everyone’s going to see a completely different club situation than we’ve ever experienced in Mississippi,” Nutt said. “We’re real proud of it.”
Besides the recession and other small challenges, Nutt said the entire development has gone as planned.
The property owner’s association and the architectural review committee of Reunion help ensure the integrity of the development remains consistent, with new homes and amenities constantly being developed and built.
Over the years, the lot and home square foot minimums have been increased, decreasing the number of available lots, but keeping the amenities and the neighborhood from becoming too crowded.
“Originally, we could have had 2,900 homes in our original filing, but we’ve decreased it going along based on what people are liking and what they express happiness with and for,” Kent said.
Reunion currently has approximately 20 communities, four of which were built this year — Woodvale, Kensington, Edenburg and Eastwick.
“The water front lots, that was our milestone for 2017-2018,” Kent said. “That’s what everyone’s looking for, so that was a big milestone for us…”
Lots include waterfront, golf front, amenity greenspace lots and interior lots.
So far, Nutt has invested approximately $130 million into Reunion, and he plans to invest another $40 million.
“That goes back to trying to plan through what (Nutt’s) vision was,” Kent said. “When we do this stuff, let’s do it the best that we can do it…”
Eventually, Nutt, Coward and Kent hope to have sidewalks leading to Madison Station, where Reunion neighborhood children attend.
“We’ve donated land to Madison Station, and there will eventually be sidewalks leading all the way (there),” Coward said. “Kids will never have to get on a street to walk to school.”
“Our goal from the get-go was to have the nicest development in the region,” Nutt said. “And we think we’ve done that.”