Hancock County

The controversial coffee shop that got the green light in Bay St. Louis is on ice — for now

This is the architect’s rendering of the Creole Creamery and PJ’s Coffee planned for Bay St. Louis.
This is the architect’s rendering of the Creole Creamery and PJ’s Coffee planned for Bay St. Louis. Harry Baker Smith Architects File

Coffee fans who couldn’t wait to get their own PJ’s Coffee will have to wait a little longer.

City officials stopped work on the coffee shop and a Creole Creamery while the developer ensures it complies with terms of a post-Katrina grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Mayor Mike Favre said Wednesday.

The grant was used to shore up historic buildings damaged by the 2005 hurricane to prevent further deterioration. Favre said the grant essentially made the MDAH partners with any project that involves the properties that received grant money. Both buildings that developer Jim MacPhaille is turning into the coffee shop and creamery were repaired with grant money, he said.

MDAH Historic Preservation Division Director Jim Woodrick said the review staff is on its way to Bay St. Louis to meet with MacPhaille to sort out what needed to be done to comply with grant requirements.

The coffee shop and its drive-thru already had some opposition from residents who said a drive-thru was a bad idea for the narrow streets of Old Town.

“Old Town is set apart,” Whitney LaFrance told the Sun Herald earlier this month. “This is a walkable town, and a drive-through takes away from that. It doesn’t let people enjoy what living here is all about.

“I have a 2-year-old, and we love to walk around town every weekend. I’m not sure I would feel comfortable about that with the drive-thru.”

The grants came to the city two administrations ago and there has been an almost complete makeover of city government since then.

“It was missed in the purchase and everything,” Favre said. “When it was brought to MDAH’s attention, they asked us to hold up until they could meet with us.

“They’re going to over what has to be done and what can be done.”

MacPhaille has done some work on the buildings.

“After he got approval from the city and before that (stop order) came about, he had started removing some of the siding where it was rotten,” he said.

Favre said he hoped to get the problem resolved within a month, provided they could get on the MDAH board’s agenda in March.

He said he didn’t know if the nearby A&G Theater, another of MacPhaille’s projects, was affected by the grant. MacPhaille said he wants to restore the long-vacant theater into a place for movies, theater, comedy, music, receptions and live entertainment.

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296, @JPaulHampton