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Plein Air in the News

Idea House sparks Taylor business interest

The Daily Mississippian

If you build it, they will come - even to a tiny town in North Mississippi.

And, indeed, there has been lots of building going on in Taylor, Miss. But the focus of the developers is on a two-story Idea House that will receive a 20-page spread in Southern Living magazine and bring thousands of people from all over the country to a once-quiet little town.

Ever since "Southern Living Magazine" declared Taylor, specifically the Plein Air Community within the city, to be the site for one of the 2008 Idea Houses, the community has gotten a lot of publicity. This exposure has given business owners incentive to start businesses in the community with the hope that the Idea House will bring heavy traffic through the area and the businesses will benefit from it.

With the Southern Living Idea House on its way to being finished, many people involved in the development of Plein Air are looking forward to what the Idea House's opening in June will do for the progress of the area.

Linda Fleming, co-owner of Emileigh's Bakery in Oxford said she was excited about their new restaurant, Emileigh's Table, opening in Plein Air in March.

"The Southern Living Idea House will bring lots of traffic, so we are expecting our first year to be huge," Fleming said.

The promise of so many potential customers coming through the area has attracted entrepreneurs from Oxford to open businesses in the new Taylor community. The Plein Air site was selected by Southern Living to be one of the 2008 Idea Houses. Plein Air is a developing community that aims to recreate the old-fashioned neighborhood feeling along with an emphasis on the arts.

Houses are designed to be close together, with generous porches made for rocking chairs and swings, ideal for chatting with your neighbors.

Every year, Southern Living partners with architects and designers to build three houses that are created to give readers of Southern Living the newest ideas for crafting their own homes. The other two 2008 Idea Homes will be in Asheville, N.C., and Fort Worth, Texas.

"The Idea House just fell into our lap," Campbell McCool, who is developing the new community with his partner, Stewart Speed of Jackson, said. "Many developers would kill for an opportunity like this."

Ann Parker of Looney Ricks Kiss, Architects, Inc. in Memphis was selected by Southern Living to be the interior designer of the Taylor Idea House.

In 2007, Parker was the interior designer for the Idea House in Watersound, Fla.

"We had around 22,000 people visit our house in Florida in about 100 days," Parker said.

Parker has chosen to use local artists' work like pottery and furniture to decorate the Idea House. A resource room will display information about the sponsors, artists and contributors.

Parker said she is glad she has the freedom to use a lot of local artists' work, and she wants to keep the majority of the house "Taylor centric."

McCool predicts that during the three-month open house that begins in June, the house will have an average of 200 to 400 visitors a day.

A $5 fee will be collected at the door of the house to benefit a local charity. It is likely that they will raise $30,000 to $40,000 for the charity, McCool said.

The first two businesses of the community plan to open their doors in March.

Emiliegh's Table will serve a full breakfast and lunch in a spacious area with exposed brick walls and hardwood floors from a mill in Virginia.

Emiliegh's Table will be next door to Tin Pan Alley, an antique store owned by Alice Hammell, a local artist from Oxford.

Above these stores, four loft apartments, each with two bedrooms, will overlook a grassy park area where the pavilion is located.

This spring and summer the park will host the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council picnic and a classic film series shown on the lawn.

Todd and Courtney Nichols were the first family to move into a house in Plein Air. After living in Oxford for a year, they moved to Plein Air last May.

Todd Nichols, an architect with Mills and Mills of Oxford, said Plein Air has a lot of potential for development.

Mills and Mills was hired to build a new restaurant, Lenora's, next to the park area. The restaurant will be Mississippi Delta cuisine, McCool said.

It will serve steaks, seafood and pasta and is predicted to open in mid to late summer.

The publicity Taylor has received and the enthusiasts it will entice is a big incentive for business owners to open new stores and restaurants in the new Taylor community.


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