First house built at new Woodland Hills subdivision

Published 12:50 am Sunday, August 7, 2011

ERIC SHELTON/THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Woodland Hills subdivision developer John Rosso inspects the first house in the subdivision — a spec home built by Darrell Boles and Justin Lees of JDL Builders.

NATCHEZ — Ground has been broken and a house is going up on the first of 66 lots in the Woodland Hills subdivision off Greenfield Road in Natchez.

With curbed, guttered and lighted streets, and open and wooded areas on 1 to 1.3 acre lots, future residents can enjoy the serenity of the country without a long drive to the city.

Developer John Rosso, with his business partner Billy Aguillard, said they wanted to develop a subdivision because there is a need for new spec and custom-built homes in Natchez.

submitted photo An architect’s rendering shows the first spec house planned in Woodland Hills.

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“We asked local Realtors because we had to understand what it is people really want,” Rosso said. “There is a niche market (for new houses) in Natchez.”

Rosso said he expects Woodland Hills to serve three different types of families.

“(We expect) younger couples with kids who need a little room, retirees who want a place in a subdivision or people who are already in homes, but want to move up,” Rosso said.

With houses priced between $240,000 to $300,000, Rosso said the price range is what fits the demographics the neighborhood will attract.

“We want people to be comfortable in this environment and take a lot of pride in their home,” Rosso said.

To ensure folks will maintain the quiet beauty of Woodland Hills, Rosso said restrictions have been drawn up — including no garages facing the street so passersby won’t get a glimpse of a potentially messy garage. He said the restrictions are similar to other developments.

“We have established a landscape requirement,” Rosso said. “Homeowners need sod, shrubs and trees. An architectural committee will approve all plans and materials, and only builders that are licensed with a good reputation (can build here).”

Putting local builders and building suppliers to work is important to the developers.

“We could build it ourselves,” Rosso said. “But we want to provide an opportunity for local builders. My desire is to be in the role of the developer. We can build for people — but we want people to build themselves and put local people to work.”

Darrell Boles and Justin Lees of JDL Builders of Natchez are building the first house at Woodland Hills — a spec home. Rosso said the house, from start to finish, will be completed in three months.

“Justin does exceptionally good work,” Rosso said. “He does it right.”

Rosso said he expected Woodland Hills would be comprised of spec homes, but since starting the project two years ago, the expectation has evolved.

“We thought people wanted spec homes, but people are inquiring about lots to build a house,” Rosso said. “It looks like there may be some opportunities for people to pick out a lot and go from there.”

Rosso said a significant amount of the lots are adaptable from 1,200 to 2,000 square feet.

“And some of these lots I call estate lots for much bigger homes,” Rosso said.

The developer said he lives in a very similar subdivision in Prairieville, La., and he’s been commuting to Natchez several times a week since reviving the project — which was put on hold for two years with the economic downturn.

“The economy wasn’t right when we started this, so we mothballed it for two years,” Rosso said. “But the time is right, so we took it out of mothballs and finished it.”

Rosso said ground will be broken on a second house within 60 days, and options for two more are on the table.

“With a subdivision, you’ve got to build on it,” Rosso said. “Within a year’s time, we expect a lot of people to be building.”

An open house for Realtors and builders will be scheduled the week of Aug. 15. Call Rosso at 281-755-6216 for more information.

“We will describe what’s available, go over specifications and walk through the house if we have a client interested,” Rosso said.