Construction equipment across the city this fall will give way next year to new hotels and restaurants in East Biloxi and a NASCAR-style go-kart track on the Biloxi Strip.
Plans have been revised slightly since they were announced this summer for Finishline Performance Karting, at what was Slippery Sams for 28 years until Hurricane Katrina. Site work on the 14-acre property is expected to begin soon at 1782 Beach Blvd. to turn the hill that was the start of the Slippery Sam waterslides into a base for two kart track. The main 3/4-mile regulation track runs closer to U.S. 90 while a 1,120-foot junior track is near the back of the property that runs along McDonnell Avenue, just east of Veterans Avenue.
Instead of an RV park at the rear of the property as originally planned, developer Joey Spear with Greater Gulf Development told the Biloxi Development Committee on Wednesday it will start as a grassy area for event parking and they will decide later on the best use.
Spear said construction of the tracks and ticket building will begin immediately after the project goes to the Biloxi Planning Commission and is approved by City Council, and he expects a spring opening.
“March 1 is our target date,” he said.
He’s also changed the brand of race cars to Sodi KART, an Italian manufacturer with gasoline-powered cars that run fast at 50 miles per hour, quiet and low, just an inch and a half off the ground.
“We ordered 43,” he said of the high-tech cars that he said resemble “little Ferraris.”
Viewing decks will let spectators see the entire track, and Bobby Heinrich, project designer, said it will have a ramp and elevator for access.
The track will be open to the public and Spears told the DRC he anticipates it operating Wednesday through Sunday. During the race circuit from October through February, the track will be closed for a weekend each month for races that draw the top drivers and thousands of fans during the off-season.
The DRC also heard plans for Le Café Beignet, which will relocate to the second floor of the old Biloxi Library. Owner Sita La’Cap said she will have cafe tables on the front lawn and will light the large tree.
These project are just two of many under way or opening in Biloxi, said Community Development Director Jerry Creel. Construction continues downtown on Watermark all-suites hotel and Hilton Garden Inn along with Mugshots Grill & Bar, all within a block of each other just east of Main Street.
Also coming to Biloxi are:
▪ Construction is about to begin on a $3 million Saltgrass Steak House. The fine-dining restaurant will be at the foot of the Biloxi Bay Bridge, north of Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi and U.S. 90.
▪ A temporary certificate of occupancy was issued for the new Dunkin’ Donuts on Cedar Lake Road.
▪ The new Camping World retail store on Oaklawn Road off Interstate 10 is opening.
▪ The city will take bids for a pedestrian crosswalk at MGM Park at end of September and is planning another overhead crosswalk at the Small Craft Harbor.
▪ A 60-day, $70,000 project began this week to improve the public parking area south of the Biloxi Lighthouse.
▪ $190,000 in repairs to the welcome center at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, which was damaged by a fire last year, will begin Oct. 2
▪ A 30-day project to install a pre-fabricated concrete boat ramp over the existing boat ramp at the Small Craft Harbor begins Oct. 30.
▪ Work continues on the Popp’s Ferry Causeway Park, with completion expected in April.