Tupelo Developer Envisions Great Things for Area

Fri June 11, 2004 - Southeast Edition
Maybelle G. Cagle

Jay Harrison is a developer with a vision: a man who not only enjoys planning multimillion dollar residential and commercial projects in Tupelo, MS, but a man who also likes operating the heavy equipment being used on them.

An entrepreneur, Harrison is currently constructing a $20 million residential/commercial development in Tupelo. The development, called North Creek, will include a three-lane boulevard bordering U.S. 78, underground utilities and a landmark honoring Elvis Presley.

North Creek Plaza is the name of his commercial tract of North Creek. The residential part is named Northcreek Village.

More than 80 homes will be built in the affordable $90,000 to $145,000 range to accommodate the demands of residents.

“This commercial-residential venture has never been done here in the manner in which I am putting it together,” said Harrison.

It will include hotels, restaurants, retail shops and professional offices leading to a residential area.

“I estimate full completion of North Creek within three years,” he said.

Hands-On Contractor

“I love to operate any type of equipment. I consider it therapy, said Harrison, owner and president of Harrison Signature Properties.

Harrison, who considers himself a hands-on developer, said he goes in and finds the best use of road and lot placement “purely through vision.”

Then, his surveyor comes in to “shoot the roads and lots.” Harrison favors this method over spending time drawing it first.

“My experience with drawings is that nothing ever goes exactly as planned. This saves us time and dollars along with the fact that I can select, if I want, to save what trees or not to save them,” said Harrison.

Harrison considers his vision “a gift from above.”

As a child growing up in Memphis, TN, Harrison’s parents would send him to relatives in Mississippi to spend summers on a farm.

“During the summer, I worked on the farm, which taught me how to work along with experiencing all types of equipment,” he said.

Harrison often runs the equipment on his projects.

“I run a dozer is when we are starting a new development, which usually consists of heavily wooded and hilly terrain,” he said.

Harrison said he has a passion for making things better.

“My dream is to leave this place a better place for my children along with others, he said. “I am a visionary and I look at developing like art from start to finish.

“My workdays never end. I love what I do. I love conversations that carry us forward. I live and breath it,” he said.

A New Tupelo

Harrison said the main challenge with his project has been “moving Tupelo in a new direction.”

“Our development is enlarging the footprint of our city along U.S. 78 [soon to be I-22],” he said. “We are raising the bar of quality, which I hope will have a trickle effect to other developments. In this, we will create a better place to live.”

Part of North Creek Village will wind up in the city limits. The residential area and the westernmost part of the commercial development are within the city limits. Harrison hopes to work with Tupelo officials in annexing the rest of the U.S. 78 corridor.

“This spring, Tupelo will see one of the largest development sites it’s ever seen. We’ll have new construction going on in every subdivision and every parcel we own. To me, what I’m doing in Tupelo is taking a whole sector of town and creating dots and I’m connecting them.”

“For commercial owners, this means their business will easily be seen from the highway,” said Harrison. “The exit off the highway will bring customers directly to their door step, advertising dollars will not have to be spent on directional billboards and customers will be more likely to stop due to easy on-and-off highway access.

“Residential property owners will benefit from easy access to all of the major thoroughfares of Tupelo that take them to medical services, shopping, air transportation, entertainment and downtown Tupelo,” he said.

An advantage of the area where all this development is taking place, said Harrison, is the natural soil foundation. He sold the dirt, which came out of gated Deer Creek Estates, so a lake could be dug. The dirt went to the construction of a Chili’s franchise. North Creek is the only development located on U.S. 78 in Tupelo.

A stream in the middle of North Creek will be a feature of the development.

“That gives people something really nice to look at when they drive through. It’s not just look at a piece of blacktop,” said Harrison.

Other subdivisions developed by Harrison include Deer Park Estates, which is an established subdivision . Phase four of this project opens this spring. Deere Park Estates is a gated community featuring homes with a minimum of 2,500 sq. ft. in space and three-story townhomes with personal elevators.

Tree-adorned scenic lots overlook a lake.

Additionally, Hillside Circle, is located before Deer Park Estates. Homes have at least 1,400 sq. ft. in space.

Another project, Lake Point, is a developing neighborhood with 1,800 sq. ft. plus homes. The neighborhood offers easy access to Tupelo.

Woodbridge Estates, which has 22 lots, is a new development that offers rolling, wooded hills. The lots can accommodate 3,000 sq. ft. homes.

Harrison began a partnership a year ago with Eutaw Construction of Aberdeen, MS, for the commercial section of the Northcreek project.

“My partnership with Eutaw Construction stemmed from them talking with me about developing a certain tract of land in close proximity to all my projects,” said Harrison.

Eutaw Construction was established 24 years ago by Thomas S. Elmore, president, and a small group of investors. The company is licensed in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Arkansas and Texas.

The company has 35 Caterpillar scrapers on site along with other necessary equipment to move large quantities of dirt. Eutaw Construction can move between 50,000 and 100,000 cu. yds. (38,228 and 76,455 cu m) of dirt per day depending on the length of haul, site conditions and type of material.

Elmore noted, “Jay is a very bright young man with a vision of how property should be developed and look when completed. I am proud to be involved with him on the Highway 78 project in Tupelo. With his vision and hard work, it should be a great success.”

Mayor Larry Otis added,“I think anytime we can have additional business development it’s good. Jay Harrison is a very fine developer with a vision for creating an area for business and residential development.”

For more information, visit http://harrisonproperties.biz/development.html.