Residents began to wonder years ago if they would ever see reconstruction at the old Veterans Affairs property on U.S. 90 or the derelict Markham Hotel downtown.
Both properties remain vacant on high-profile lots, but Virginia attorney Robert Lubin has assured city leaders construction will soon begin on both.
Lubin said his group has financing for Markham redevelopment. The group also has bought the parcel just south of the Markham. He plans to turn the Markham into luxury apartments, possibly with a restaurant on the first floor. Lubin told the Sun Herald on Tuesday that 64 one- to three-bedroom apartments will rent for an average of $1,800 a month.
He said a marketing study showed a “huge demand” for apartments in the area. He expects work on the Markham to start by early 2017.
As for the old VA property, now known as Centennial Plaza, Lubin’s group is teaming with New Orleans developer Stewart Juneau. Juneau first announced plans two years ago for a Holiday Inn Resort, festival marketplace and other development on the 57 acres the federal government deeded to the city after Hurricane Katrina.
The city’s redevelopment agency, the Gulfport Redevelopment Commission, now owns both properties, along with harbor property where Lubin is involved in a proposed casino development.
GRC attorney Steven Hendrix said Centennial Plaza’s design team spent Tuesday morning hashing out plans. He said financing should be wrapped up for construction to begin in December.
“That is the plan,” Hendrix said, “and the design team is working very much to meet the timeline.”
Centennial Plaza development hinged on the availability of historic tax credits from the state, which had run out. The Legislature replenished the credits earlier this year, allowing project financing to move forward.