Good news for downtown Biloxi, Centennial Plaza with $4.5 million in new Coast projects

2019 is looking up for historic areas of Harrison County with a $54 million mixed-use development proposed in downtown Biloxi and a restaurant added to the Holiday Inn and water park opening soon at Centennial Plaza in Gulfport.

More will be known about plans for downtown Biloxi on Tuesday when Howard Avenue Developers, who already started restoring the Barqs building in downtown Biloxi, go to the city council.

The developers will be asking for facade grants to restore several buildings along Howard Avenue and for tax incentives to make the mix of commercial and residential spaces happen.

The developers propose converting long-empty buildings into offices, retail, entertainment and dining. They also plan to bring housing back downtown, something that has been lacking since whole neighborhoods were demolished when Urban Renewal began in the 1960s.

Under the agreement the council will consider, construction would begin by Oct. 1 and the first phase of the project would open no later than June 1, 2021.

Firing up

Just two weeks into 2019, South Mississippi has $4.5 million in projects getting started, bringing new restaurants, improved schools and renovations at local businesses. Among the projects are:

Highlighting the list is $1.2 million for a new restaurant in building 64, one of the 10 historic buildings at Centennial Plaza in Gulfport.

Mayor Billy Hewes reported in December that the Holiday Inn Resort and water park — plus a renovated wedding chapel — should open by spring in Centennial Plaza.

The 8,830-square-foot restaurant will go in what was the administration building at the former VA Center deeded to the City of Gulfport after Hurricane Katrina. The building is on the south side of the property, close to U.S. 90 and the beach.

A permit for another $1.2 million was issued for improvements to Moss Point High School. Pascagoula School District will spend nearly $200,000 to renovate bleachers and gym floors at the high school.

In November, Edgewater Mall saw the opening of Premiere Cinema and now $900,000 is being invested in new entrances to give the mall an updated look.

“We’ve already started on the south entrance,” said Terry Powell, mall manager. The west side of the mall has a new entrance to the Sky Zone Trampoline Park that he said is opening in early summer. The west mall entrance, just south of the food court, also will get a makeover.

The 24,000-square-foot trampoline park will have 19 attractions. A wall inside the mall was pulled down, which Powell said allows light to pour into the mall and food court, and will give people walking by a window into the action.

“Sales for December were tremendous,” Powell said. He attributes much of the increase in shoppers to the theater and he said more new features are coming to the Biloxi mall.

Top development projects

The Treen Report shows $186 million in commercial construction building permits for 2018 in South Mississippi and $4.5 million to start the year. The most significant permits over the last month are:

$1.2 million to renovate building 64 at Centennial Plaza, U.S. 90, Gulfport, into a restaurant

$1.2 million for renovation of Moss Point High School, 4913 Weems St., Moss Point

$903,000 to renovate Edgewater Mall entrances, 2600 Beach Blvd., Biloxi

$800,000 for renovation of exterior of apartment complex at 248 DeBuys Road, Biloxi

$320,000 to renovate High Tides restaurant at IP Casino Resort, 850 Bayview Ave., Biloxi

$240,000 to finish Eye Associates of the South, 1400 Big Ridge Road, Biloxi

$225,000 for finish of Solid Rock Baptist Church, 13281 Old Highway 67, Biloxi

$214,000 for office at Keith’s Heating and Air Conditioning, 18301 U.S. 49, Gulfport

$195,000 for renovation of bleachers and gym floors at Pascagoula High School, 1716 Tucker Ave., Pascagoula

$150,000 for addition at 14100 Cook Road, Biloxi

$115,000 for renovations at 202 Klondyke Road, Long Beach

$106,000 for a shop for Steve Lombardo, 9077 Mississippi 603, Waveland

$100,000 for Ice House Stop N Geaux, 16303 Mississippi 53, Gulfport

$31,000 for renovation by Biloxi Housing Authority at 241-243 Elmira Drive, Biloxi

Upcoming ribbon cuttings

Other new businesses opening, upgrading or celebrating milestones with ribbon cuttings are:

Jan. 15 — Ole Saint Biloxi restaurant at Boomtown Casino Biloxi

Jan. 17 — Domino’s restoration of original restaurant, 1681 Pass Road, Biloxi

Jan. 17 — Jacked Up Coffee Bar, 999 Howard Ave., Biloxi

Jan. 17 — Petro Chevrolet / Petro Cadillac, 4012 14th St., Pascagoula

Jan. 23 — Gulf Coast Woman Magazine, 3451 Washington Road, Suite B, Gulfport

Jan. 25 — AlphaCare Urgent Care, 921 Cedar Lake Road, Biloxi

Jan. 28 — Polished Salon & Spa, 1308 College St., Gulfport

Jan. 31 — One Thirty One Lameuse, 131 Lameuse St., Biloxi

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Mary Perez is the business and casino reporter for the Sun Herald and also writes about Biloxi, jobs and the new restaurants and development coming to the Coast. She is a fourth-generation journalist.