New development on the Coast: Downtown living, hotels, restaurants and cargo-container shops

Reservations are open for Centennial Plaza’s hotel, downtown living is coming to Gulfport and new stores are opening as development spreads across South Mississippi.

Here is a roundup of the projects:

Those who want to be among the first to stay at

Centennial Plaza and play at the colorful new water park now can make a reservation for Labor Day Weekend and beyond. is booking rooms at the Grand Centennial Hotel and the Oasis Resort Gulfport at Centennial Plaza on U.S. 90 in Gulfport.

Festivals like the new Chillin’ on the Gulf Coast in September, weddings and other events also are being booked at the 50-acre resort that will have a mix of restaurants, lodging, attractions and eventually housing.

Drive by Centennial Plaza at night and the lights are on again for the first time in decades, said Greg Pietrangelo, Gulfport’s director of urban development. He rode by in the daytime and saw a bride in her gown with two photographers going into the wedding chapel.

“It’s all starting,” he said.

In downtown Gulfport, the old Cadillac Club on 27th Avenue is now home to residents moving into one- and two-bedroom apartments on the third and fourth floors.

“Downtown living is finally coming to the City of Gulfport,” Pietrangelo said.

This new mixed-use development, with a restaurant on the first floor, commercial space on the second and two floors of rental units, has investors and property owners talking about downtown housing, said Laurie Toups, Gulfport Main Street director.

“People are looking at the cost per-square-foot to build more,” she said.

With the Mississippi Aquarium posting job openings for biologists and other top-level staff, Toups said she expects more interest in the downtown leading up to the opening of the aquarium in late 2019 or early 2020.

Building boom in Biloxi

The start of new construction in South Mississippi slowed in May, as it typically does, but is running well ahead of last year. Across the Coast, $158 million in building permits have been issued since Jan. 1 compared to $117 million at this time last year.

The largest project permit is $68 million for three new fabrication shops and $13 million in infrastructure as Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula reopens its East bank shipyard. Other large building permits are $14 million for the Biloxi Performing Arts Center at the high school and $11 million for the Cure Hotel near the beach in Bay St. Louis.

Many other projects are just getting started, like Bertucci Park, a mixed-use development of single-family homes, condominiums, retail and restaurants. The Biloxi Council just approved the use of the property on Atkinson Road off Popp’s Ferry Road.

“It will be a major revenue producer for the city of Biloxi,” said Jerry Creel, Biloxi’s Community Development director. The neighbors were most concerned about traffic and Creel said the owner agreed to provide additional land for turning lanes. “We do have Gulf Regional Planning and Development Commission looking at that intersection,” Creel said.

Work also continues on the amusement park at Margaritaville Resort Biloxi and the Watermark Suites Hotel in the downtown as building permits show a continued boom in Biloxi.

“We’re $12 million over last year this time,” Creel said.

Going shopping

There is a hot new store in Gulfport and others coming across the Coast.

The first Pepper Palace in Mississippi is open at Gulfport Premium Outlets, featuring a variety of hot sauces, barbecue sauce, salsa, jams and jerky. It has more than 45 locations nationwide, and unique local selections include Ship Island Lighthouse, Mississippi Crawfish and Gulfport’s Where Your Ship Comes In.

The Backlot at Trackside Innovation District in downtown Gulfport will use cargo containers, like those that arrive at the nearby Port of Gulfport, to create a retail cluster to give people a place to shop and gather. Toups said the public/private partnership will continue the revitalization of downtown.

For those looking to buy a new car or truck, Gulfport is one of the locations nationwide where CarMax is building an office where people can buy or sell a car. It will open at Mississippi 605 and I-10 this fall or winter.

The city is issuing a building permit right next door for a new Champion Dodge Chrysler, Pietrangelo said.

The new Rouses Market opened June 12 on Pass Road in Gulfport, and the crowds continue to pour in to check out the store and its huge selection of grab-and-go foods.

Pietrangelo said the owner of the store that Rouses has vacated may already have a new tenant, but isn’t saying yet who it will be. The owner has created two out parcels for additional business in the parking lot, he said, and Ollie’s Bargain Outlet will open soon in what was part of the old Kmart store.

More Coast projects

With building permits issued for 154 new homes in Woolmarket, Creel said, businesses and services are following. Woolmarket has a new Subway, Deluca’s Pizza and Wings and the ribbon will be cut Wednesday for the new Singing River Health System Woolmarket Clinic on Shriners Boulevard.

North of I-10 in Gulfport, a Home2 Suites hotel is under construction in Anchor Plaza and Moe’s Southwest Grill is open.

The Gautier Call Center announced in January is delayed but is still coming to the long-empty Kmart, said Mayor Phil Torjusen. There was a change to the AT&T business model, he said, and the new business may open with fewer jobs than anticipated. The developer has a 10-year lease on the sprawling building along U.S. 90 and intends to create vendor booths for an indoor flea market, he said.

Also coming to Gautier is a new M&M Bank, with a ribbon cutting in the next few weeks, he said, along with a Fast Pace urgent care across from City Hall, a dermatologist office on the northeast side of U.S. 90 and Mississippi 57 and a combination seafood market and restaurant.

In Ocean Springs, the new Woody’s Roadside is open, and the original building was demolished, which will open up the restaurant and the parking lot.

The Walmart stores in Lucedale and Wiggins are among nine stores in Mississippi that will be remodeled this year as part of $46 million in improvements in the state.

Driftwood Nursing Center at 1500 Broad Avenue in Gulfport will become part of Memorial Hospital at Gulfport effective July 1 and operate a Memorial Driftwood Nursing Center. The 151-bed nursing home will add 150 clinicians and support staff to Memorial.

New businesses open

P.J.’s Coffee of New Orleans, 14100 Cook Road., Biloxi, MS 39532

Pizza Hut at the Shoppes at Washington Avenue, 6835 Washington Ave., Ocean Springs

Baudier’s Flooring newly remodeled showroom, 2701 25th Ave., Gulfport

Ben Nelson Golf & Outdoor, 9231 West Oaklawn Road, Biloxi

Affordable Tax Service, 7302 Mississippi 613, Moss Point

Allstate, Chris Boudreaux Agency, 209 E. Second St., Pass Christian

Tasty Lounge, 188 Reynoir St., Biloxi

Scentcious Creations, 2214 25th Ave., Gulfport

Bijoubel’s new location at 136 Main St., Bay St. Louis

The Pass Daq & FroYo Shoppe, 125 Davis Ave., Pass Christian

Youth Villages at The Innovation Center, 1641-A Popp’s Ferry Road, Biloxi

Merit Health Primary Care Cowan, 1107 Cowan Road, Gulfport

Tiki Delivery, ceremony at Rum Kitchen, 324 U.S. 90, Waveland

Westwood District at Florence Gardens, 12522 Westwood Place, Gulfport

Smiles by Design Orghodonics, 3149 Mallet Road, D’Iberville

Fur Baby’s Veterinary Hospital, 17339 Mississippi 67, Biloxi

D’Iberville Urgent Care, 10319 D’Iberville Blvd., D’Iberville

Sports Clips, 4006 Bienville Blvd., Ocean Springs

Buff City Soap, 705 Washington Ave., Ocean Springs

RBC Medical Services, 20006 Mississippi 53, Gulfport

Garden Park Walk-in Clinic, new location at 350 Cowan Road, Gulfport

Ribbon cuttings

June 18 — New location of Singing River Medical Clinic, 3099 Bienville Blvd. (Next to Ocean Springs Hospital)

June 19 — Singing River Health System Woolmarket Clinic, 13034 Shriners Blvd, Woolmarket

June 21 — The Soular Yogi, 1613 25th Ave., Gulfport

June 24 — A Southern Bagel Company, 19018 Pineville Road, Long Beach

July 8 — Tastie’s Bubble Tea Cafe, 188 Reynoir St., Biloxi

July 10 — Photos2Go, 827 Howard Ave., Biloxi

Treen Report

Among the largest building permits issued across the Coast in the last 6 weeks:

$2.5 million — Back Bay RV Resort, Dismuke Ave. in St. Martin

$1.4 million — Sports complex for City of Pascagoula at 1813 Tucker Ave., Pascagoula

$1.2 million — Renovation of sportsbook at Harrah’s Gulf Coast, 280 Beach Blvd., Biloxi

$605,000 — Football fieldhouse, 10800 Yellow Jacket Blvd., St Martin

$590,000 — Windows and doors for Harrison County Schools, 94 29th St., Gulfport

$500,000 — RV Park at 12001 Cedar Lake Road, Biloxi

$420,000 — Renovation of CCTI welding shop, Pascagoula School District, 1716 Tucker Ave., Pascagoula

$400,000 — Office at The Hatten building, 1404 24th Ave., Gulfport\u0009

$400,000 — Site finish at Edgewater Village, 2650 Beach Blvd., Biloxi

$283,000 — Equipment shelter for Gulf Coast Custom Homes, 27350 Bradley Road, Pass Christian

$252,000 — Metal storage buildings at NM Markup, 2381 Pass Road\u0009Biloxi

$168,000 — Renovation for Walmart Real Estate Business Trust, 9350 U.S. 49, Gulfport

$153,000 — Renovation for Pascagoula School District at 2602 Market St., Pascagoula

$150,000 — Renovation and update at Mississippi Power, 2605 13th St., Gulfport

$150,000 — Parking lot at St. Joseph Catholic Church, 12290 DePew Road, Gulfport

$130,000 — Renovation for Mardi Gras Museum, 792 Howard Ave., Biloxi

$129,000 — Tenant finish for Ron Botterbusch at 140 Eisenhower Drive, Biloxi

$125,000 — New church at New Life Worship Center, 11606 Three Rivers Road, Gulfport

$111,000 — Renovation for Ocean Springs Trustees at 2300 Government St., Ocean Springs

$98,000 — Renovation at North Bay Elementary, 600 Pine St., Bay St. Louis

$49,000 — Car rental counter at 14035-L Airport Road, Gulfport

$45,000 — Renovation for MHG Ortho, 4320 A 15th St., Gulfport

$40,000 — Renovation at Love’s Pharmacy. 6390 Washington Ave., Ocean Springs

$24,000 — Renovation at American Family Fitness, 295 U.S. 90, Bay St. Louis

Liquor licenses

El Rincon 2, 15701 Lemoyne Blvd., Biloxi

South Beach/Big Play Event Center, 289 Veterans Ave., Biloxi

Annette’s, transfer from Your Place LLC, 1214 East Railroad, Gulfport

Bayou Vista Golf Course, 13756 Washington Ave., Gulfport

Lazy Gator Sports Bar and Steamer, 3410 Yacht Club, Diamondhead

Discount Wine & Liquor, 3604 Ingalls Ave., Pascagoula

The Valut, 3611 Denny Ave., Pascagoula

Beachy Daiquiri & Hookah, 2805 13th St., Gulfport

Downtown Cafe and Daiquiri, 3438 Main St., Moss Point

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.