Developer seizes chance to turn farmland into homesteads

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Features Editor

Two years ago, Robert Hughes probably would have laughed if someone had told him he was going to turn farm land into a residential area.

But not today.

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When Wal-Mart officials announced

in 2001 that the Arkansas-based company would build its newest and largest distribution center in Brundidge and right down the road from his home and farm, Hughes realized the center would do more than provide 600 new jobs for the area.

"I believe the opportunity for good jobs will bring a lot of people to Brundidge to live," Hughes said. "Many people these days are looking for places to build outside of town. People seem to want to get away from the rush and hurry of towns and enjoy the peace and quiet of the country. They also want more than a small lot to build their houses on. They don’t want to be cooped up. They

want room for their children to run and play. They want room for a few cows and maybe a horse or two. They want woods where they can enjoy nature and they want places to hunt and fish."

Hughes stood in his backyard one morning and realized he had just the place.

It didn’t take him long to make up his mind to turn 68 acres of farm land and timber land into homesites that would meet the needs of those who want to experience country living close to their workplace.

"The land is about a mile west of the distribution center," Hughes said. "It’s close enough to get to work in a matter of minutes but far enough away to not be disturbed by the huge amount of traffic that will be going and coming from the distribution center."

Hughes has divided the 68 acres into six 10-acre parcels and has set some restrictions on building.

"Each house must be at least 1,600 square feet and we will also allow modular homes as long as they are skirted and have an outward appearance of a house."

Hughes said several people have expressed an interest in buying a 10-acre parcel to develop.

"I’d had some interest shown in purchasing several acres for home sites," he said.

The development is named Savannah’s Corner and was named for Hughes’ younger daughter.

The land development corners on Highway 6 and Baker Road with one lot fronting the county road and two lots facing Baker Road.

"This is a good neighborhood and one that anyone would enjoy living in," Hughes said. "We’re just outside of Brundidge and about eight miles from Troy. It’s a very good location for anyone who wants to live in the country, but especially for those who work at the distribution center."

Hughes said four of the 10-acre parcels are open land and the others are wooded.

"There are 750 pine trees per acre on the timberland and they are about four years old," he said. "The wooded areas have turkeys and other wildlife to enjoy."

Of the acreage Hughes has up for sale, only about 16 acres were actually being farmed.

"I didn’t take that much out of production," he said, adding that he has be approached about developments on additional land. "But, that’s bloodline-land. I don’t want to develop it. It has sentimental value and it’s worth more to me in that way than I could get for it."

Over the next few years, Hughes expects to see his horizons change.

For as long as he can remember, he as looked around him at farmland and timberland. Soon, he may be looking at rooftops.

"That’s progress," he said. "Things change as time changes. Brundidge needs new business and people need jobs. So, you’d have to say Wal-Mart’s coming is a good thing for us. It might spur other businesses in the area. There could be more change coming. We’ll just have to wait and see."