While the ribbon was cut on a new D’Iberville Boulevard on Thursday, crews were working across the street to clear the 80-acre site of the future Gulf Coast Galleria shopping center and city leaders were talking about more development.
“This opens up downtown D’Iberville like it’s never been open before,” Mayor Rusty Quave said of the new four-lane road with turning lanes and decorative streetlights to match those at The Promenade shopping complex nearby. The $5.4 million project was designed by Neel-Schaffer engineering and built by JLB Contractors.
Quave said that when Interstate 10 was built, it was such a “disservice” to the community that no off ramps were built to bring people off the highway and into D’Iberville.
Mississippi Department of Transportation spent $40 million rebuilding the I-10 and I-110 intersection as D’Iberville built a powerhouse of shopping and dining. Mississippi Development Authority funded phase I of this additional road work south of I-10 and phase II is being engineered.
Mike McGrevey, deputy director of MDA, said they still want to bury the electrical wires along the new road underground to improve the appearance.
“This just begins to open up all the options that have always been here,” he said of the roadwork.
Among those projects D’Iberville is eyeing are:
▪ Bob Mandal, who has worked since 2013 to bring Gulf Coast Galleria to D’Iberville, said he has 131 acres in the city. He recently announced that Walk-Ons Bistreaux & Bar, co-owned by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, will be built on the 24-acre site south of I-10 and east of I-110. Mandal said that site also will have retail, another restaurant and a multi-story, class A office complex. He’s hoping for a fall 2020 opening on several of the new projects, he said.
▪ While retail is a hard sell in other areas of the country, Gulf Coast Galleria has a $96 million tourism tax incentive attached to it. Other than the land clearing, there hasn’t been any new updates on the property since last September when Mandal partnered with a new developer, Rise Partners. But he said, “People like shopping in D’Iberville. They really do.” His BMW and Buick dealerships were named tops in several company-wide categories this week, he said.
▪ Mayor Quave said he hopes in 90 days the city will have a contract with the casino developers to build the city’s second casino on the Back Bay. A French Marketplace will be its unique attraction, he said, so it’s time to dust off the master plan for downtown that originally called for a marketplace as part of the Royal D’Iberville Casino that was never built. Later, the marketplace was sketched as a series of shops, cafes, entertainment venues and housing in D’Iberville’s old town, east of I-110.
Quave said D’Iberville got into the development of shopping and dining complexes at the right time. He’s amazed when he drives along Promenade Parkway and Sangani Boulevard and realizes how many different types of restaurants and cuisine are available are in the 6 square mile city.
“And Drew Brees,” he said. “Who would have thought?”