PASCAGOULA -- Construction of an International House of Pancakes restaurant in Pascagoula, set to open the end of July, is just another example of continued growth in the city, officials said.
The IHOP will be built on the south side of U.S. 90 where the frontage road meets Verndon Street, said Mark Cumbest, owner/broker of Cumbest Realty Inc., which sold the property to Dallas-based property development firm Encore Hospitality.
Groundbreaking is expected to start in a couple of weeks, said Glenn Pedersen, president of Encore Hospitality, a division of Encore Enterprises.
It will be a $2.5 million to $3 million investment, Pedersen said, and will employ about 80 people.
"We have an IHOP in D'Iberville and we had done so well with the store there that IHOP Corp. asked if we'd be interested in doing more," he said, adding Pascagoula is the first of two Mississippi markets Encore investigated.
The new IHOP will be the only one between D'Iberville and Tillman's Corner, Ala., he said. "It made all the sense in the world," he said. "People have easy access to it."
Cumbest agreed, and said he's seeing a resurgence of interest in the U.S. 90 corridor. "I am having good response for our property along Highway 90, both for lease and for sale," he said.
Pascagoula City Manager Joe Huffman has worked with IHOP on other projects. "They're a good company. They work with local officials and the amount of money they bring into a city is unbelievable," he said. "They'll be tremendous."
The project is indicative of business growth across Pascagoula -- not just on the U.S. 90 corridor, but also on Delmas Avenue, where four businesses opened recently, Huffman said.
The $25 million Hilton Garden Inn will open in March at the old LaFont Inn site on U.S. 90. Hardee's and Dairy Queen restaurants have already opened at that location, near Singing River Hospital, which itself is undergoing a $30 million renovation.
And "we're seeing a lot of activity on Chicot," Huffman said, and on Market Street.
There's a waiting list for the city's business incubator, The Cottages at Anchor Square.
In addition, the city will soon widen Hospital Road south of U.S. 90 to Old Mobile Highway. The planned improvements will have a landscaped median, decorative lighting and sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides of the road.