BILOXI -- In just two days Vieux Marche in downtown Biloxi went from nearly deserted at night to the place to be, and business owners say the energy is spreading.
The ribbon was cut for Level Nightclub at Vieux Marche Wednesday and the VIP launch of Kress Live, right next door, was on Thursday. Over the July 4 weekend, people spilled out onto the street as they wandered between the new nightclubs and into nearby restaurants.
"Crowds were great," said Kay Carter, downtown services manager for Biloxi, and she added, "This was just the first weekend."
Nicole Ledet, who handles VIP reservations and bookings for Level Nightclub, said business owners from throughout South Mississippi came to support the new club and she took VIP reservations from people who drove over from Slidell, New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
The cast and crew from the "Party Down South" reality television show filmed at Level on the opening night, she said. "It was intriguing for the crowd."
Weekend customers checked out both Level Lounge, which plays Top 40 music, and Kress Live, which promises a variety of music.
"We did play off of each other. I don't think this area has been this busy in over 10 years," she said.
Chase Taylor said the opening of Kress Live brought lots of positive feedback to the owners.
"We always like to have as many people as we can to have the positive impact in the community," he said. "We had the right people this weekend."
VIP night on Thursday brought business leaders, Friday's crowd was a little younger and Saturday saw a mix of ages, he said.
This week crews are finishing up construction. A Led Zeppelin tribute band is upcoming and another major act will be announced this week, he said.
Jerry Johnston, owner of the Fillin' Station restaurant two blocks from the new nightclubs, said he had a great crowd for the weekend.
The restaurant has been open for nearly five years in the downtown that hasn't come back since Hurricane Katrina.
"We welcome any small business opening downtown," he said.
He was raised in Biloxi and sees the potential in plans for mixed use development in the old federal building next door and the baseball stadium a few blocks away.
With 70 home games bringing thousands of fans downtown, "That's a lot of folks. It's exciting," he said.
The Biloxi council has called a special meeting at 10 a.m. on July 15 to look at plans for development in the downtown and throughout the city.
Jerry Creel, community development director, will update the council on plans for Vieux Marche and Caillavet Street, along with a look at plans for traffic, pedestrian flow, parking and signs at the new baseball stadium. The report also will look beyond the downtown to the length of U.S. 90, Pass Road and the Woolmarket exit of Interstate 10, and tax incentives that can be used to attract business.
"We absolutely do have a vision," said Carter. They also have a lot of interest from a variety of investors, she said, and Biloxi Main Street has assembled a book of available properties in the downtown to get them started.