The first phase of Beachwalk Condominiums in Long Beach opened in 2002, a world unto itself with a private drive that led to push-button garages. Green space, a retention pond with water lilies, custom cabinetry and the personal touch of owner-developer Fred May brought a quick sale of the 14 units. |
On Jan 2, 2005, May started Beachwalk's second phase, to bring the total to 29.
On Jan. 2, 2006, May will start over.
"All we had left to do before Katrina was put in the gates," May said.
The hurricane swept clean the townhouselike complex at 700 West Beach Blvd. with metal roofs, sea-green siding and landscaping.
May intends to build it back now that he has permits. Because Beachwalk was built to recent FEMA codes, he said the only thing that'll look different is architectural shingles instead of metal roofs, his choice after studying storm effects.
May is proud to be among the first Coast developers to begin construction. While still evacuated in Texas, he located workers.
"I don't have any Beachwalk homeowners who said they aren't coming back. They're just telling me to hurry up and build them," May said. "They had flood and homeowners insurance."
All the condos were sold before Katrina. Seven had not yet closed and he is offering those to the same people at a higher price that he said reflects the greater post-Katrina costs. He's also building a new condo complex at the corner of Tegarden and Beach Boulevard in Gulfport, planned before Katrina.
"My dad told me when I was young to 'do whatever you do best,' and what I do best are smaller projects with intimate settings," he said. "I'm one of the developers that touches almost everything that goes into the building.
"And I'm the most optimistic person now. Five years from now the Coast will be the most fabulous place to live."
- KAT BERGERON