D'IBERVILLE -- It was the day the city waited more than two decades for as the official groundbreaking was held Tuesday for the $250 million Scarlet Pearl Casino.
Roy's Anderson Corp. is building the resort on Central Avenue, east of Interstate 110, and crews are already driving piles at the site.
"Obviously the construction didn't want to wait until the groundbreaking," said Randall Fine with The Fine Point Group, a casino consulting firm.
He introduced Mayor Rusty Quave and said Quave probably had saved his comments for the more than the 20 years it took for the city to get its casino.
The Scarlet Pearl, the 13th casino in South Mississippi, will be the city's catalyst to revitalize downtown D'Iberville, Quave said.
"Everybody passes by every day. We're making sure they're working," Quave joked.
George Toth, CEO of Land Holdings I, developer of the casino, said he is aware of the importance of the casino to the community. It will create 500 construction jobs and 1,100 permanent jobs.
"Opening date has to be by New Year's Eve 2015," he said.
The resort will have 300 hotel rooms, restaurants, retail, and conference and entertainment space plus two premium miniature golf courses.
Toth said he originally added the golf to meet the state Gaming Commission's requirement for amenities, but came to realize they would set Scarlet Pearl apart.
Jeff Taylor, city planner, said the hope is the casino will draw additional economic development in downtown.
People questioned why the city's Town Green is downtown and why the Coast Transit Authority is building a terminal there, said Councilman Joey Bosarge. "Now it's all making sense to everybody."
City Manager Bobby Eleuterius said Mark Seymour Sr. began working 22 years ago on his dream to build D'Iberville's first casino. He died before that happened, but Eleuterius said, "He'd be very proud for us today even though it wasn't his."