Dana landowner seeks to end development deal|[3/7/06]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 7, 2006

The owner of a 42-acre tract off Dana Road proposed for rent-assisted housing has asked its prospective buyer to void the contract to purchase it.

Local independent Realtor and landowner Greg Thomas confirmed the written request was made around midmorning Monday.

At a public hearing Friday, about 70 residents of the Danawood subdivision and other areas near the proposed development voiced solid opposition and signed a petition addressing local governments. It said any development on the acreage would devalue their property and bring increased traffic and crime.

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Warren HDI, L.P., headed by William G. Brockman, the president of Monroe, La.-based Sunquest Properties Inc., was set to file an application for federal tax credits and a rental assistance program through the Mississippi Home Corporation to build 74 single-family houses on the site, just inside the city limits and adjacent to Danawood.

A regional manager of Sunquest represented the group at the meeting and collected written comments, keeping with guidelines set forth by MHC. Those comments had a 10- to 14-day window for response. The status of the application is believed to be ongoing, but calls to Brockman were not returned.

The request letter is only a first step in putting the brakes on the project, with word back from Warren HDI expected this week, Thomas said.

&#8220My intention is to void the contract,” Thomas said, adding that his action is based on &#8220gross inaccuracies” in the way the group’s intentions for developing the land were presented to him in their initial talks.

Thomas, who said he was unable to attend the hearing due to an illness, has said he was originally told the homes would retail up to $170,000 and would not involve rental assistance.

Thomas said he has spoken with Brockman since Friday’s hearing, but would not comment on the nature of that communication.

Approval of such projects in the city are subject to review by the city zoning board for compliance, with drawings and layout considered.

Residents of the Fox Run subdivision, about three miles south of the proposed Danawood development, last month flooded the phone lines of California-based Opportunity Builders after that group proposed an 81-unit apartment complex on land adjacent to that subdivision.

That proposed development was to be financed by some of the same federal tax credits as the Danawood proposal, primarily the rent maximums associated with the Low Income Housing Tax Credit.

Tenants in rental units financed using the LIHTC pay no more than 30 percent of the median income of a city or county.

According to the company Web site, Sunquest Properties manages 3,200 units of both market rate and government subsidized apartments in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

During the meeting, the Sunquest representative told residents that the company was involved in applications for similar developments in Forest, Gautier, Biloxi and in the northeastern Scott County city of Sebastopol.