That buzz heard around South Mississippi comes from power tools and the excitement building as new hotels, casinos, restaurants and housing goes up across the three Coast counties.
It isn’t just steel and concrete that has city planners excited. New sports complexes, nature trails and parks also are on the way.
Last week’s groundbreaking for the $75 million Beach Casino at Island View Casino Resort in Gulfport was the highlight but just the start of this spring’s development news. Permits were issued for more than $9 million in commercial construction in the last two weeks.
David Parker, Gulfport’s economic development director, said the owners of the Markham Hotel are working with a brand hotel chain on a 99-room hotel adjacent to the aquarium that is under construction. Restoring the Markham, which has been empty since Hurricane Katrina almost 12 years ago, is going to have a huge impact on downtown Gulfport, he said.
Felix’s Restaurant and Bar, a favorite in New Orleans, opened last week on the beach in Gulfport, and Parker said, “That’s great for Gulfport and tourism. It’s not just another restaurant but a landmark restaurant.”
About 60 merchants came to a planning meeting for the Courthouse Road widening project. Meetings will be held every two weeks during the 12 months to 15 months of construction, and Parker said the idea is to have as little impact on the business community as possible.
MCS Insulation opened its second location on Seaway Road in Gulfport last week. North of the interstate, the widening of Dedeaux Road is about to get started and Anchor Plaza near the sportsplex is now home to a new Texas Roadhouse.
That’s great for Gulfport and tourism. It’s not just another restaurant but a landmark restaurant.
David Parker, Gulfport’s economic development director, on Felix’s restaurant
Three hotels are under construction or about to start building in and around downtown Biloxi. Crews continue to renovate the former Santa Maria tower across from the Small Craft Harbor into the Watermark 154 all-suites hotel. Work is just getting started on the adjacent 100-room Hilton Garden Inn and will begin soon on the 66 suites LaQuinta on the west side of Hopkins Street.
Bacchus Biloxi Beach on restaurant row opens Monday, and owner Jourdan Nicaud plans to keep the original location across from the Beau Rivage and MGM Park. Barroom opened Friday, and it’s a restaurant and bar with an arcade and billiards hall.
Also in East Biloxi, Landry’s is about to start construction of a Saltgrass restaurant north of U.S. 90, across from Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi. Ron Savell opened Patio 44 restaurant on Main Street in Biloxi last year and this year is building a new Mugshots directly to the north.
New stores also are coming to Biloxi. Renovations have started for a new JoAnn Fabrics, coming to the shopping center on Eisenhower Drive, next to the former location of Hancock Fabrics. Development Director Jerry Creel said the final certificate of occupancy was issued for Tuesday Morning at Edgewater Village Shopping Center and it is expected to open soon.
Creel said in his development report that the Planning Commission voted to approve plans for the proposed Biloxi Bay RV Resort on 14.5 acres on Wells Drive, with RV sites and cabins, two swimming pools, a splash pad and a goofy golf course. The project now goes to Biloxi Council for a vote.
In D’Iberville, Mandal Buick-GMC dealership opened earlier this year, with a new BMW dealership still to come, and the area just to the west of The Promenade is being cleared to make room for more shops and restaurants. Besides being a retail and restaurant hotspot, the city is the entryway to eight casinos, and city planner Jeff Taylor said, “The pass through traffic is just unbelievable.”
That area could see even more casinos in a few years. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians announced they are working on plans for a casino in D’Iberville and the owners of Foxwoods Casino have teamed with Chris Ferrara to develop a casino in East Biloxi.
In Jackson County, VT Halter Marine announced this spring it has begun construction of a blast and paint facility at its shipyard in Pascagoula. The new facility is a flow-thru configuration that keeps particles contained and not released into the environment as the ship parts are prepared, blasted and painted.
Also in Pascagoula, a new Aspen Dental is opening at 4001 Denny Ave., and Kenneth Jones II said groundbreaking is expected by the end of the month for the first phase of Courtyards at City Dock Development, a mixed-use development on the river.
Eating oysters, drinking daiquiris and looking at the sunset -- it doesn’t get any better than that.
Jourdan Nicaud, owner of Bacchus on Biloxi Beach
Groundbreaking was held this week for The Inlet, which developers The Thrash Group says will provide all-inclusive living where residents can live, eat and shop. The development on the north side of U.S. 90 in Ocean Springs will have a restaurant, shops, clubhouse, swimming pool, fitness center, dog park, water views and natural landscaped trails.
In the past two weeks, 55 new homes were permitted for construction, according to the Treen Report, with 14 of them in Jackson County along with 41 in Harrison and Hancock County plus one duplex.
Residents and tourists in South Mississippi soon will have a variety of new recreation experiences. A groundbreaking will be held Wednesday for the Beach Boulevard Scenic Byway Pedestrian Pathway near Silver Slipper Casino in Hancock County.
In D’Iberville, the Tchoutacabouffa River Park and Conservation Area will be developed over years, Taylor said, with renaissance gardens, nature trails and disc golf. “Absolutely low-impact, no motors, open at dawn, close at dark,” he said. D’Iberville and Harrison County also will open a Sports Complex this summer.
Biloxi is creating Popp’s Ferry Causeway Park with nature trails and an interpretive center that make the most of the spit of land just to the west of the Popp’s Ferry Bridge.
In Gulfport, the 34th Street Park is under construction with gardens, a 12.5-acre disc golf course, 19 acres of bike trails, pet park, nature trails and outdoor classroom; “We’ve got 40 acres to play with,” Parker said, and the city is going with new attractions that aren’t found in other Gulfport parks.
$9 million in commercial building permits
Permits issued in the last two weeks for commercial construction in the three Coast counties:
▪ $2.9 million for interpretive center, nature trail, parking lot at Popp’s Ferry Causeway Park for the City of Biloxi. Contractor is DCD Construction, Ocean Springs.
▪ $2.5 million for exterior renovations at VT Halter Marine, 900 Bayou Cassotte Parkway, Pascagoula. Contractor is Quin-Co., Eight Mile, Alabama
▪ $1.3 million for renovations to War Memorial Stadium at Pascagoula High School, 1716 Tucker Ave., Pascagoula. Contractor is Stewart Construction Co., Pascagoula
▪ $790,000 for new car wash at 446 U.S. 90, Waveland. Owner is Steven Schmidt, Covington, Louisiana. Contractor is Waltco General Contractors, Greenwell Springs, Louisiana.
▪ $592,000 for pedestrian pathway and boardwalk on Beach Boulevard, Bay St. Louis, Hancock County. Contractor is Ernest/Vonnie Ladner, Gulfport.
▪ $450,000 for restroom, concession building, grandstand and tennis court at Pascagoula School District, 2002 Buena Vesta St., Pascagoula. Contractor is Stewart Construction Co., Pascagoula
▪ $209,000 for renovation at Planet Fitness, 2390 Pass Road, Biloxi. Owner is John Landry, Gulfport. Contractor is C. Roberds General Contractors, Biloxi.
▪ $150,000 for metal building for shop and office at 12300 Big Creek Road, Gulfport. Owner is Sherri Allen, Long Beach. Contractor is A&C Industrial, Long Beach
▪ $66,000 each to complete units 2 and 3 at 15224 Creosote Road, Gulfport. Owner is Mulford Waldrup, Columbus, Georgia. Contractor is JW Puckett & Co., Gulfport.
▪ $65,000 for office renovation at 15476 Dedeaux Road, Gulfport. Contractor is J.O. Collins Construction, Biloxi.
▪ $60,000 Renovation for Felix’s at 942 Beach Blvd., Gulfport. Contractor is Scott Drown Construction, Gulfport.
▪ $44,000 for renovations at Advance Auto Parts, 4212 Main St., Moss Point. Contractor is North American RFG Services, Indianapolis, Indiana
▪ $40,000-$55,000 for tenant finish of units A and B at 8933 Lorraine Road, Gulfport. Owner is SP Holdings, Gulfport. Contractor is Labor Plus, Gulfport.
▪ $38,000 Interior renovations at Forts Lake Assembly of God, 12412 Forts Lake Road, Moss Point.
▪ $25,000 for a two-story addition with four classrooms at Cedar Lake Christian Assembly, 11555 Cedar Lake Road, Biloxi. Contractor is De Coito Homes, Gulfport.
▪ $13,000 Storage lean-to at Floyd Seal/Empress Audio, 1925 Denny Ave., Pascagoula