Island Breeze in Pass Christian would have lived up to its name. With a view of distant Cat Island, the condominium was nestled on the corner of Beach Boulevard and Henderson Avenue, where a zippy breeze perceptibly lowers temperatures. |
The project was also a sign of the changing times on the Mississippi Coast. Before Katrina, 65 condominium projects were proposed or in progress in the three coastal counties, poised for an unprecedented spurt of growth in resort developments.
Katrina changed timetables, including the one for Island Breeze.
Construction was 60 to 70 percent complete on phase one, 30 units in the three-story building that had its bottom floor as parking. Plans included more buildings plus a tower, though that didn't yet have approval before Katrina whacked 80 percent of the Pass.
The first condos were 1,500 square feet with two bedrooms, two baths and a price of $250,000 to $350,000.
"We were within 60 days of closing with the individual buyers," said Carlene Alfonso, CEO of Coldwell Banker Alfonso Realty. "They were from all over the country, Wisconsin to Florida to locals. Most were buying as investments because they could be put into a rental pool. We already had quite a few rentals booked."
Instead, the condo buyers got back their earnest money on the pre-Katrina Island Breeze. Alfonso said they will be given first option when Island Breeze rematerializes.
But they won't be able to buy in the same price range, Alfonso said, because post-Katrina construction prices are higher, bringing up the cost of the overall project.
Alfonso's is the listing company for Island Breeze, and she said the owners are L.A. Homes from Louisiana.
"Their hopes are to build back a tower," she said. "If you look at what did well on the Coast it was not the low-rises, so they're hoping to get the city of Pass Christian to approve a tower with two parking floor levels as a storm wash-through."
"L.A. Homes is hoping to submit plans for Island Breeze Towers within 90 days, then it's however long the city of Pass Christian takes," Alfonso said. "I can't tell you the calls I get wanting to know what will happen. We'll submit the plans but there's a lot up in the air now with planning and zoning decisions."
- KAT BERGERON