Plein Air: Livin’ the Good Life in a Modern-Day Mayberry

HottyToddy.com’s Steve Vassallo recently visited with Campbell McCool, owner/developer for Plein Air in Taylor. As development continues to expand, Taylor is becoming “the talk of the town.”

HottyToddy: Campbell, 2017 must have been a very good year for your development as new streets and housing emerged.

Campbell McCool: We’ve had nice momentum for the past three or four years. We’ve been adding about 12-15 new homes each year and think that can continue or even accelerate a little.

HottyToddy: It’s apparent that there are many individuals who prefer to live in a more rural setting as opposed to the hustle and bustle of a college town.

McCool: Plein Air is a unique offering. It was the first traditional neighborhood development in north Mississippi. We emphasize the front porch and sidewalks, and everything is walkable. As Oxford continues to expand – especially to the south due to the new hospital’s location – Taylor becomes an increasingly more compelling option. It is only an eight-minute drive to the Ole Miss campus.

HottyToddy: Describe some of the amenities that home purchasers can look forward to in your development.

Campbell McCool: When Plein Air is fully built out – which may be 10 years from now – we will have approximately 200 homes, six or seven parks, several restaurants, coffee shops, office buildings, retail stores, and loft apartments. We’ve got a seven-acre commercial district that is about the size of the Oxford Square.

Every house in Plein Air has a front porch.

HottyToddy: In your view, what are the primary advantages/considerations for living in Taylor?

McCool: Taylor has always been a great place to live. It is a short ride to the Ole Miss campus or the Square. The Taylor town limits and the Oxford city limits are only four miles apart. As Oxford continues to expand, Taylor becomes an increasingly appealing option. The town of Taylor put zoning in place ten years ago. The entire city has high-speed fiber-to-the-home internet, natural gas, a very good water system, and good, stable leadership. Taylor has a full-time employee who rides around in a golf cart picking up trash.

HottyToddy: With the economy soaring so far in 2018, what are your expectations for new construction this year?

McCool: We’ve been through a poor economy and now a strong economy. Our vision hasn’t changed. We hope to add 12-15 new homes this year and one or two new commercial buildings. We’ve got a coffee shop and some loft apartments about to break ground and possibly a few other commercial ventures.

HottyToddy: For those readers unfamiliar with your background, provide a few resume highlights.

McCool: My family and my wife’s family have been in Lafayette County since around 1840. My great-great grandfather and my wife’s great-great grandfather both left Ole Miss in the same small troop during the Civil War (the Lamar Rifles.) I graduated from Ole Miss with an English degree in ’85. After a run in advertising and public relations in Atlanta, my family moved back to Lafayette County in 2003. We started developing Plein Air in 2007.

A beautiful scene in Taylor’s Plein Air.

HottyToddy: How did you first become interested in Taylor?

McCool: I always loved Taylor when I was a student at Ole Miss in the ’80s. We bought a small farm in Taylor in 1997, and the idea for Plein Air came about a few years later.

HottyToddy: As to the new homes going up, one obvious advantage is that homeowners are not held hostage to extensive lawn care, right?

McCool: The traditional neighborhood development emphasizes smaller, individual yards and multiple common green spaces. Our HOA does the landscaping, mows the grass, etc.

HottyToddy: As the floor plans vary, can you comment on one of the more popular ones, along with square footage?

McCool: Our average-size house is around 2,000 square feet, with three bedrooms and two or three bathrooms. We’ve got some larger homes, but, interestingly, the most popular homes are smaller. There is a nationwide trend called the “small house” movement. We just did a 900-square foot, one-bedroom house that had incredible interest and sold quickly. But we also just finished a 3,500-square-foot home with five bedrooms. As long as it has a front porch, we want it at Plein Air.

The average house in Plein Air is about 2,000 square feet.

HottyToddy: The drive into Oxford is both beautiful and relaxing, as the country/farm views are refreshing. What is the drive time?

McCool: It generally takes about eight minutes from Plein Air to the Ole Miss campus.

HottyToddy: Who are the utility providers?

McCool: Northeast Power for electricity; Centerpoint for gas; Taylor Water; Main Street Taylor for sewer; and ATT high-speed fiber-to-the-home internet and TV.

HottyToddy: What are the other roadways extending from Taylor to the south, east and west?

McCool: Hwy. 328 connects Taylor rather quickly to Highway 7 going east; it also runs from Taylor down to Water Valley and I-55 if you head west.  Old Taylor Road obviously runs between Taylor and Oxford.

HottyToddy: From your many conversations with residents, what do they say to you regarding the most enjoyable aspect about living in Taylor?

McCool: People frequently compare Oxford to fictional Mayberry. But Taylor is a much better example. Everybody knows everybody. Everyone picks up their mail at the P.O. and checks in with the postmistress. And people really look after each other in times of trouble and celebration.

HottyToddy: We’re starting to see some commercial development in addition to the housing. For those fortunate individuals who can work from home, are you starting to see any trends in this area?

McCool: The commercial district at Plein Air comprises seven acres. We’ve got an incredible restaurant now – Grit – and our chapel and reception venue, The Mill. But you will start to see it develop further. We’re about to add a coffee shop with some loft apartments and then possibly a small office building. After that more retail, commercial and live-above residential.


Steve VassalloSteve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.

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