The Old Town development in north Columbus is a jewel among the Southern Living Inspired Communities that are now beginning to multiply across the Southeast, said Kathryn Lott, assistant marketing manager with the Birmingham, Ala.-based organization.
That’s why, she said Monday, Southern Living is bringing a group of about 75 people comprised of developers, architects, designers and others to the 300-acre mixed-use development for an annual summit that will be held Wednesday following a Tuesday night dinner catered by Epic chief Jamie Keating.
(300-acre Old Town development picks up pace in north Columbus)
“Old Town is one of our charter members with the program,” Lott said. “They were one of the first to sign on three years ago. They really exemplify what it is to be a Southern Living-inspired community. They’re really breaking the mold in terms of their residential product, as well as their rental units, the apartments, and now they’re opening that retail. So it’s a really exciting time to be at Old Town.”
It has been more than three years since Columbus-based Woodruff Co., a real-estate development and management firm, began turning dirt on the swath of former farm land and forests at the corner of Veterans Parkway and Williams Road. Today, it is a blend of Southern Living-style homes and upscale apartments and lofts, with common areas that include a church-like event facility and retail that is preparing to blossom.
That look and atmosphere straight out of Southern Living magazines is what the out-of-towners will be absorbing as they tour the grounds and streets of Old Town on Tuesday, Lott said. The daylong summit takes place Wednesday. It’s a private gathering.
“Every year we bring together all of our developers from this program,” she said. “We share what’s happened with other developers throughout the year, as well as what we’ve been up to and what’s ahead for next year.”
Last year, the Southern Living Inspired Communities faithful met at Cloudland Station in Chattanooga, Tenn. It and Old Town are among 17 such developments already out of the ground, with Lott noting that this week’s summit will include at least five new developers trying to decide if they wish to jump into the concept.
“Inspired Communities is a collection of neighborhoods marked by charm, taste, and Southern spirit,” the organization’s website says. “These hand-picked neighborhoods embrace a pride of place and encourage new traditions of living in the South.”
Cathy Horne, a Realtor with Woodruff Co., said the summit also should have an economic impact on the area, with attendees staying in local hotels, eating out some and checking out the city.
“They’ll have the opportunity to tour some things in Columbus,” said Horne of the event, which also will generate money for catering and rental businesses. She said some of the local breweries may be on hand as well to give participants a taste of their products.