Jim and Deborah Barnes came from Birmingham to buy investment property on the prospering Coast, and when they saw Gulfport's Maria Place, they bought not only one of the homes for themselves but the two other 2,200-square-foot, New Orleans/Charleston-style houses.
   The three units were staggered for waterfront views from balconies; one was still under construction when Katrina hit.
   "They were beautiful, well-appointed houses, an awesome piece of property," said Debbie Gomila, the listing agent with Owen & Co. Real Estate who introduced the Barneses to the project at the corner of Maria Avenue and West Beach Boulevard.
   The Barneses have joined with Shoreline Development, and an architect is designing four homes for the site.
- KAT BERGERON