The impasse is over and now an amusement park complete with a giant Ferris wheel and other rides and outdoor attractions can move forward at Margaritaville Resort Biloxi.
A press conference Tuesday afternoon announced the agreement between Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann and Biloxi Lodging LLC, which is the developer of Margaritaville Resort Biloxi.
Biloxi Lodging will invest about $140 million to develop Phase II of Margaritaville with carnival rides and a new hotel tower immediately to the west of the current resort.
A large Ferris wheel overlooking the water is in the plans already being designed by the engineers and architects, said Cono Caranna, spokesman for Biloxi Lodging and Margaritaville.
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“We’re now going to start looking for the newest and coolest outdoor attractions to go in the park,” he said. “We’re going to bring something everyone is going to be proud to have on the Coast."
Caranna said they anticipate adding 600 jobs to the 700 current employees at the resort.
Plans for the amusement park were held up for about two years in the dispute over the land south of U.S. 90. Under the agreement, the state’s ownership of the land is confirmed and Biloxi Lodging will pay $655,700 in rent each year into the Tidelands Funds.
"At a proposed $140 million investment, including hundreds of new jobs, the leasing of state-owned tidelands properties for Margaritaville — Phase II is excellent news for Biloxi, the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and the state," Hosemann said in a statement. "This development should produce millions of dollars for the Tidelands Fund — all of which is spent on the Coast. The project will be another great reason for citizens all over the State and visitors to spend one more day on our Mississippi Gulf Coast.”
Biloxi Lodging estimates Phase II of Margaritaville with its amusement park and hotels will bring more than 1 million new visitors a year.
The current Margaritaville Resort Biloxi has an indoor zip line roller coaster, climbing wall, ropes course and a variety of games and virtual attractions.
Caranna said that since Hurricane Katrina, when so many family-friendly parks were lost, getting them back on the beach has been the number one request.
“This will add more excitement and thrills for all ages,” Caranna said of Phase II.
Barrington Development, the company that restored the former Casino Magic into the new Margaritaville Resort, also restored the White House Inn on U.S. 90. The company also is restoring the former Santa Maria del Mar senior housing in Biloxi into Watermark Suites Hotel. In Gulfport, the company is restoring buildings at the former VA property on the beach into a hotel at Centennial Plaza, and is restoring the Markham Hotel in downtown Gulfport.
The company opened a second Margaritaville Resort opened last weekend in Vicksburg.