A lucrative deal to rent the old Biloxi library as a restaurant worked so well, Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich is looking for developers for three other downtown properties owned by the city.
They could become retail stores, bed and breakfast establishments, boutique hotels, restaurants or attractions as Biloxi works to restore the downtown.
The city is willing to sell or lease the properties and Gilich said, "Since these are special sites, it would have to be a special proposal to get our attention.”
Request for proposals are being accepted through June 6 to develop these locations:
▪ Magnolia Hotel, along with an adjoining public parking area north of U.S. 90. Built around 1847, the building with its multiple levels of wraparound porches is one of the oldest buildings on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, according to the Biloxi Walking Tour description. It is currently being used as the Biloxi Mardi Gras Museum.
▪ Creole Cottage. This building that is typical of early Biloxi tourist cottages built around 1830-1870 became the first permanent, regularly operated and free public library in Mississippi, according to city history. It was used as a visitor center and was moved after Hurricane Katrina. It now sits on Rue Magnolia, near Merit Health Center.
▪ A large, open lot across from City Hall on Lameuse Street. This was the previous site of the Creole Cottage and the sprawling Biloxi library, which was demolished after Hurricane Katrina.
Biloxi recently leased the second floor of the historic library building on Lameuse Street, near City Hall, for $4,700 a month to Le Cafe Beignet. Owner Rosita La'Cap also agreed to lease the entire building after the first-floor lease for $2,800 fell through.
Gilich said the city will consider the benefit to the community as well as the price and proposed us of the three properties.
He said he expects a lot of interest because of public improvements to roads and infrastructure underway and private investment, such as the planned demolition of the old federal courthouse for a new bank.
And there are plenty more properties available. The city owns land at the north end of MGM Park, the former Fountain Restaurant site on Rue Magnolia and many lots on Caillavet Street that were part of the redevelopment of that area decades ago.
Biloxi is also moving forward with a $1.9 million plan that will return Howard Avenue to two-way traffic through what once was a vibrant downtown. The west end of the street is being demolished and the work is scheduled to be complete in six months.
Finding a developer for city-owned property downtown is one of the proposals of Biloxi's Downtown Plan that recommends the city provide incentives to turn vacant city property into jobs and revenue.