Business

Biloxi is getting even more family-friendly attractions

The Pierotich family has purchased the lot between Souvenir City and Treasure Bay Casino and will build a new, larger store on the site just east of their current location in Biloxi.
The Pierotich family has purchased the lot between Souvenir City and Treasure Bay Casino and will build a new, larger store on the site just east of their current location in Biloxi. ttisbell@sunherald.com

Family attractions are making a big comeback in Biloxi this summer, with a new RV resort planned on Veterans Avenue, a bigger souvenir shop on the way and possibly a multi-level go-kart track coming to the beach.

Biloxi’s Development Review Committee on Wednesday officially heard plans for Biloxi Beach RV Resort, a campground proposed by RW Development that will stretch from just north of the railroad tracks on the west side of Veterans Avenue to and including the VFW Post at Pass Road.

“Not just an RV park,” said Terry Moran, an engineer with Terry Moran and Associates in Biloxi, “but a Floridian RV park like nothing on the Coast.”

The company has the option to purchase the Veterans of Foreign Wars building, he said, which would provide space for meetings, music and other events and would be ideal to draw RV rallies to the Coast.

“We don’t have that down here now,” he said.

The 18-acre campground will have spaces for about 150 recreational vehicles. Brandon Wooldridge with RW Development said it will be complete with a swimming pool, pickleball court, children’s playground, basketball court and store.

If that’s not enough fun and games to keep guests entertained, they’ll be in walking distance to Big Play Entertainment Center, also owned by RW Development, a few blocks away near the beach.

While plans haven’t been submitted to the city, Moran and Wooldridge told the DRC of their idea to tear down the barbecue restaurant at the corner of U.S. 90 and Veterans Avenue and build a multi-level go-kart track similar to ones that are very popular in Branson, Missouri and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Woolridge said they are looking at electric go-karts — “eco-friendly, no gas” — that can race at up to to 35 mph on multi-level track with banked turns. Like golf carts, the cars run quiet and he said, “You can run 30 at one time.”

A higher speed race track is proposed on the former Slippery Sam’s site to the east, but Wooldridge said his company wants to provide a more family-friendly attraction.

“We know that it’s going to be successful,” he said. Because of the significant design cost, Wooldridge said he wanted to talk to the DRC before he went ahead with the go-kart project.

Community Development Director Jerry Creel said the city is starting to look at how to enhance Veterans Avenue to make it more attractive. “Right now it’s just conversation,” he said, but as these big projects come in and improvements continue at the VA Center, the road may need a new look.

Wooldridge said RW Development hasn’t given up on building a casino along U.S. 90 — although site approval was denied by the Mississippi Gaming Commission — and is adding more attractions to get people to extend the number of days they spend on vacation in Biloxi.

In other development coming to Biloxi, three hotels are under construction along the beach, two sites that have been empty for 12 years since Hurricane Katrina are getting new life, and new eateries are coming. They include:

▪ The 12-acre site between Treasure Bay and Souvenir City was sold to the Pierotich family, said Monte Luffey, a principal with Southeast Commercial Real Estate. He believes an apartment complex was on the site before Katrina.

“I know for sure that we’re going to build a new Souvenir City store,” said store owner JJ Pierotich. He and his family also own and operate Sharkheads souvenir shop on the Beach and Pierotich said he believes it’s good to have stores on both sides of U.S. 90. The family is just putting together plans for the site and he said the new Souvenir City will be a larger store. “Other development would come behind that,” he said.

▪  The Merchiston Hall building on Howard Avenue near MGM Park has sat empty since Katrina and will now become the office for Machado/Patano engineering firm.

“You’ve got your Mardi Gras balcony,” said Eric Nolan, chairman of the DRC, when he saw the design and the balcony overlooking the parade route.

David Machado said the firm purchased the building in June and plans to lease about 7,000 square feet for a restaurant, retail or professional offices. The company doesn’t have tenants yet, he said, but does have interest from a sandwich shop and a bar that may want to lease space on the street level of the building, just north of MGM Park.

“Another blighted building removed. Another downtown attraction around the baseball stadium,” said Creel. “This is a great addition to downtown.”

▪  Representatives of the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise said the new store under construction on Cedar Lake Road in Biloxi is expected to open in August.

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