Harrison County

A brand-name hotel is moving into the old Markham building — and that’s not all

The old Markham Hotel in downtown Gulfport will be developed under a franchise agreement with a major brand. The building, which has been empty since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, sits across from the Mississippi Aquarium now under development.
The old Markham Hotel in downtown Gulfport will be developed under a franchise agreement with a major brand. The building, which has been empty since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, sits across from the Mississippi Aquarium now under development. amccoy@sunherald.com File

The derelict Markham Hotel building will be transformed into a Hyatt Place hotel, a developer told the Sun Herald on Thursday.

Virginia attorney Robert Lubin, who owns the building, said his company has signed a franchise agreement with Hyatt Place. He expects construction on the $30 million project to begin in early 2018.

Another Lubin company also has taken over development of the historic Veteran Affairs acreage on U.S. 90. Lubin said he hopes construction will start this fall on a previously announced Holiday Inn Resort and renovations of a chapel at the property’s entrance.

The federal government deeded the VA property and buildings, known as Centennial Plaza, to the city after Hurricane Katrina. The city’s economic development agency, the Gulfport Redevelopment Commission, has signed a contract with Lubin’s firm to develop the property, which has been through two previous developers.

Lubin said initial development costs for the VA property will be $39 million. The investment includes the chapel, but not festival grounds planned for the site, GRC attorney Steve Hendrix said.

“The plan is to get the hotel up and running, and go from there,” Hendrix said.

A third company Lubin is associated with has a lease with GRC and two other property owners to develop a casino in the harbor.

Lubin said financing for the $150 million casino is coming along. The company continues to make monthly rental payments to GRC and the other property owners, despite the fact that the project is behind schedule and has missed some deadlines outlined in the lease.

Downtown business owners are anxious to see progress on development of the Markham. The old building looms over downtown and sits across the street from the Mississippi Aquarium.

The city of Gulfport is building the aquarium at total project cost of $93 million, which includes state and BP oil catastrophe funding. Construction on the aquarium also is expected to start in the fall.

“We're next to aquarium so we're going to be the aquarium hotel,” Lubin said.

Lubin said Hyatt Place will be a $30 million investment. The full-service hotel will have 120 rooms. Lubin was previously involved in development of a Hyatt Place in a landmark federal building in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota.

All the developments he works on are funded through the federal EB-5 visa program, which extends permanent residency to foreigners in exchange for substantial investment.

Lubin said both the Markham building and the Centennial Plaza project have qualified for historic tax credits from the state and federal governments.

Anita Lee: 228-896-2331, @calee99

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