More than two dozen brightly painted stucco houses are clustered together on three acres in North Charleston while the surrounding 41 acres remain undisturbed.
Construction has stopped at the Mixson neighborhood off Durant Avenue, where an Atlanta firm was planning some changes after taking it over from the I'On Group, a development firm known for its namesake neotraditional neighborhood in Mount Pleasant.
Mixson was to mirror I'On's dense concept. The developer planned to build as many as 950 units on the 44-acre tract. It bought a former military housing site for $3.8 million in 2005 and leveled the aging homes.
Jamestown of Atlanta, which was an early partner with the I'On Group in the Mixson deal, has bought out the mortgage and it plans to reconfigure the original plans to better fit with the current economy.
"We have essentially hit the reset button," said Michael Phillips, Jamestown's creative and marketing director. He declined to disclose terms of the deal.
Jamestown officials don't have new plans yet, but Phillips said the group will likely end up building fewer homes on the property than originally proposed. Mixson made headlines for the projected density of the neighborhood, which featured narrow alleyways, clusters of multifamily buildings and bits of public meeting space.
It also raised eyebrows with nearby neighbors because more homes, naturally, mean more traffic and the need for more public services.
Jamestown officials will take the next few months to figure out how to complete the development. The new plan will still include environmentally sensitive building concepts, quality craftsmanship, public spaces and an emphasis on walkability, Phillips said.
German-owned Jamestown got its green thumb in late 2008, when it bought Green Street Properties, an environmentally focused development and consulting firm also in Atlanta. Earlier this year, the company announced it would spend up to $10 million to retrofit its $4 billion portfolio of properties -- a mix of retail centers, office buildings and housing developments -- throughout the country.
Phillips said it could be another nine to 18 months before construction crews return to Mixson. He called it "a hiccup in the lifespan of the project," pointing to the popularity of nearby Park Circle.
"In the macro, people are moving toward these communities," Phillips said. "If anything, the economy has had a greater impact on traditional suburbs."
Mixson's unfinished status is more the standard these days given the impact that the prolonged recession has had on the real estate business.
Other nearby projects -- ranging from the Noisette to The Beach Co.'s smaller Garco Park redevelopment off East Montague Avenue -- also are on hold.
North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey said Mixson remains a well-thought-out development. "We think the project will move forward, and I think it'll end up being successful," he said.
Summey can speak about the Mixson development both as a city leader and a property owner. He and his wife, Deborah, bought a one-bedroom unit on Summey Street -- it's named for them -- for $180,118 in 2008 and have rented the 576-square-foot apartment out ever since. Only six of the completed housing units at Mixson have been sold. Summey is realistic when asked whether he could resell his property for that amount today.
"Probably not," he said. "But I think the value will come back as development picks back up."
Reach Katy Stech at 937-5549 or firstname.lastname@example.org.