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Michelle Carswell, left, and Kevin Carswell, right, with daughter Jordan and son Devin. Michelle is moving to Oxford, Miss., to run a student housing development while Kevin Carswell will continue to operate the family’s coffeeshops in San Marcos. COURTESY PHOTO

by BRAD ROLLINS

Longtime San Marcos businesswoman Michelle Carswell is relocating to Oxford, Miss., at least temporarily, to manage a major housing and mixed-use development near the University of Mississippi.

The former outlet mall general manager said her new position with Austin-based Campus Advantage will put her in charge of the Highland Square development which features 949 bedrooms between a mix of leased houses, cottages, townhomes and flats. Its developers hope to add commercial amenities at some point.

For Carswell, 48, the Oxford job is a career opportunity she cannot pass up, even though it means leaving her hometown of 29 years. She moved to San Marcos in 1983 to attend what was then Southwest Texas State University. Here she met lifelong San Marcos resident Kevin Carswell.

“It was not an easy decision. It is definitely not an easy decision leaving behind somewhere you have lived for so long,” Carswell said.

Carswell was general manager of Tanger Outlet Center in San Marcos for six years, a job that former San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz helped her land when Narvaiz met outlet mall magnate Stanley Tanger in 2005 at the annual international retailer convention.

When she left Tanger in April 2011, Carswell said it was sobering experience to go from head of one of the city’s biggest economic engines to unemployed and looking for work.

“The last year and a half have been very challenging and enlightening. When people give you a higher status because they think you have something to offer them, when you’re no longer in that position, you just sort off drop of the edge of the earth. It’s like you’re gone,” Carswell said.

Before working at Tanger, she managed large scale multi-family and student housing complexes in San Marcos and Austin including Hillside Ranch, University Club and the Villagio.

The Carswells own three Mochas and Javas coffee shops in San Marcos which Kevin Carswell will continue to operate in her absence. Their son Devin, 21, lives in San Marcos and daughter Jordan, 18, is a freshman at Colorado Christian University.

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