After years of talking about it, Biloxi is ready to kick in $50,000 to study making Howard Avenue through Vieux Marche a two-way street again and create a plan for restoring economic energy downtown.
The historic buildings in Vieux Marche remain, but the once-thriving business district there disappeared long before 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.
The $50,000 will fund a $31,200 study by Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District to create a Biloxi Downtown Restoration Plan. The nonprofit group will look at the area from Interstate 110 east to Lee Street and from the waterfront to Division Street, and expects the project will take four months.
Restoring Howard Avenue to two-way traffic from Reynoir to Lameuse streets is a top priority in Phase I of the plan.
The group will review the many studies and plans previously proposed for the downtown. Goals, objectives and priorities through 2022 will consider:
▪ Loan and grant opportunities
▪ Acquisition of blighted properties
▪ Incentives for private-property owners to invest in restoration and redevelopment
▪ Residential and commercial growth
▪ Public space, recreational and community facilities
▪ STEM training and high-tech production facilities
Specific goals, objectives and priorities will be presented during a public meeting, according to the agreement the City Council will be asked to approve at Tuesday’s meeting at 1:30 p.m. at City Hall. The agreement says the recommendations will allow the mayor and council to prioritize where and when best to make the investments in downtown and establish a short-term and long-term plan.
Also on Tuesday’s agenda are items concerning closing railroad crossings in the city, building a new entrance to Keesler Air Force Base and using a Tidelands grant for improvements at Hiller Park.