By MEGAN PHILLIPS
Sun Staff Writer
Lost Rabbit is soon to be full of new development and improvements. Along with a fifth residential phase, Southern Lifestyle Development (SLD) real estate company will be adding enhancements to the town center.
“We are in the process of platting our first phase,” Teddy Beaullier, director of operations at Southern Lifestyle Development, said. “This would be the first time we get in there to implement infrastructure.”
In June of last year, SLD purchased Lost Rabbit’s town center as well as 40 residential lots from Allstate Insurance Company, which acquired Lost Rabbit following PID (public improvement district) discussions with Madison County in 2014.
In 2007, Madison County approved the formation of the Lost Rabbit PID, but mistakenly included 143 property owners who had not agreed to be part of it.
When the PID sold $18.6 million in bonds to Allstate, the district didn’t have enough landowners to repay the debt. (Property owners in a PID pay special assessments on their land each year to retire bond issues.)
Then Lost Rabbit Development itself defaulted on PID assessments and taxes, and Allstate bought the developer’s land at the county tax sale. Other PID landowners were unable or unwilling to pay their assessments.
Simultaneously, homes and lots were not selling due to the housing recession.
The new residential phase, called B2, will be in addition to four other existing residential phases. The new section will include 73 lots, with an average lot size of 8,000 square feet (less than one fourth of an acre).
“The homes will range from 1,900 to 3,000 square feet,” Beaullier said. “They will be located off Louis LeFleur Boulevard, adjacent to phase 1 and near the entrance into Lost Rabbit.”
According to Beaullier, Benchmark Engineering completed the engineering process, and SLD anticipates the project to be under construction by the end of September.
“We are estimating probably six to eight months of construction.”
The other residential phases already built in Lost Rabbit include phase 1 and phase 2, which combined include 200 lots.
“We have over 50 residents residing there,” Beaullier said. “Currently there is (another) phase that has been completed, B1 North and B1 South. That has been developed and currently has some construction taking place.”
B1 North and South have homes available for sale, and consists of approximately 70 lots. The phase was developed by Terry Lovelace through his company Utility Constructors Inc.
Beaullier said SLD plans to develop five to six phases in Lost Rabbit.
“Realistically, it’s probably a good 10 years out before it’s all completed. Some will be near the town center, and some will be near the perimeter of the development.”
Currently, SLD is looking to enhance the town center and eventually add live-work buildings for commercial use and condominiums. The town center is already home to a neighborhood pool, parks and a playground.
“We’re working on the town center,” Beaullier said. “We’re planting, adding some green space, benches and lighting to further enhance the existing town center.”
The improvements will take place this year, according to Beaullier. There is currently no timeline for the commercial buildings and condominiums.
“Our focus right now has really been on getting the town center improvements designed and enhance what’s already there.”
At one point, SLD mentioned building a bed-and-breakfast and a restaurant.
“We’re looking at a restaurant, a bed-and-breakfast, maybe offices, and a boutique hotel is a possibility,” Kevin Blanchard, Lost Rabbit project manager for and COO of SLD, previously told the Sun. “It’s not a major commercial corridor like a mall — that kind of retail is less likely. This will be more like destination.”
The company wanted to include commercial developments that would retain the architectural integrity of the original plans for Lost Rabbit.
“The previous developers invested lots of money in the town center, and we’re excited about doing more upkeep and maintenance and injecting life into the property,” Blanchard said. “We come into these places for the long haul. It’s a long-term investment because it’s a traditional neighborhood development.”