Talk of the Town - May 2022
-by Lisa Monti
Real estate developer John Moss drove past the old Knights of Columbus Hall on the third block of Main Street many times over the years and often wondered why nothing ever happened to the long-vacant building and property.
He eventually asked his real estate agent and business partner to reach out to its owner and find out about the property. In a matter of months, Moss and three partners bought the property, and now they are developing plans to turn the two-story building into ten residential units.
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The building was constructed in the early 1900s and sits on approximately half an acre. Moss said he’s excited about developing the project, which has received approvals from the Planning and Zoning Commission and the City Council regarding variances for parking spaces and landscaping.
Still ahead is the detailed site plan review, which has to be approved by the city before work can begin. It’s so early in the process that the partners don’t yet have a name for their development and refer to it by its address, 315 Main.
Ultimately, the property will have two one-bedroom, one-bath units and eight units with two bedrooms and two baths. The larger spaces will be around 1,000 square feet with an open floor plan, and the smaller ones will measure around 750 square feet.
The developers haven’t yet decided if the units will be short-term or long-term rentals or be sold as condos. In any case, Moss said, “We are keeping it upscale.”
Moss has worked for 17 years in commercial development, mainly in retail and restaurants, in the New Orleans area. He spent summers at the family getaway home on the Jourdan River.
“I grew up racing sailboats at Southern Yacht Club and coming over to race against Bay-Waveland and Pass Christian. I always loved coming here and bought a house on Demontluzin a year ago.”
He graduated from Ole Miss with a degree in hotel and restaurant management but decided to go into commercial real estate instead.
“I formed a passion for real estate and an eye for picking out what would go well where,” he said.
Madisonville contractor Chris Combs, owner of CM Combs Construction, has partnered with Moss on the KC Hall project. He is renovating his own home on Main Street while building two commercial projects for Moss in Slidell.
The other two partners are Shaun McCarthy of The McCarthy Group, who Moss said is “the best residential real estate mind” he has ever worked with, and his younger brother, Richard Moss, an investment banker from Houston.
The partners have hired Edward H. Wikoff Architects of Bay St. Louis to work with them on the project.
When the contracting team went through the old building, Moss said, “Everybody was amazed at the craftsmanship.” The hall was built well enough to withstand the elements – including Katrina – and Moss said the craftsmanship made the hall special.
“It would be a lot cheaper to knock it down, but we like the cool factor. We don’t know if we would be able to rebuild it as cool as it is.”
The partnership plans to spend “well north of $2 million” on this project.
“We don’t know what the final investment is going to be because we’re still in the planning process,” he said. Moss said they do plan to “reach out to local artists and galleries” to showcase their work in the completed units.
Combs and Wikoff are working on a plan to remove and replace damaged sections of the building before construction of the residential units gets underway.
“We don’t know when you will see improvements to the property, but sooner is better for us. We’re going to do great things to get it done.”
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