Nearly 11 years after Hurricane Katrina flattened houses and businesses, East Biloxi remains mostly vacant land and members of the City Council and administration have different ideas of what should come next.
The council on Tuesday tabled a resolution to sell three parcels of city-owned land for an affordable tax credit housing development. A workshop is scheduled for July 19 to look at all the issues.
Councilman George Lawrence said this is not the right time to be selling the city property when all the infrastructure in East Biloxi is being replaced and the east end of the road loop is being completed.
“Everybody knows the east end of Biloxi is going to explode when the roads are done,” Lawrence said.
High-end condominiums and other development could follow, he said.
“You don’t know what we’ve got coming,” said Lawrence, who represents East Biloxi on the City Council.
Councilman Felix Gines, who also represents a large area of East Biloxi, said the biggest problem for its residents is they have no grocery store. He and others from East Biloxi drive to neighboring D’Iberville to shop, he said, because there aren’t enough residents left in that area of the city to support a store.
“We have the potential to draw businesses,” Gines said.
“The timing is critical here,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said.
The housing would be for those who work at the casinos in East Biloxi, he said.
City attorney Gerald Blessey introduced the housing proposed by Oxford-based Chartre Consulting.
The three city-owned parcels of land are an old ballfield south of the Kroc Center; O’Reilly Park on Division Street west of Kuhn Street that has a covenant from the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi for public use; and the old city barn site on Oak and Division streets.
A fourth parcel is owned by Hope Community Development, Blessey said.
“All four of these locations are vacant,” he said.
Homes would be elevated and range from 1,450 square feet to 2,029 square feet. He said people earning between $20,000 and $40,000 would qualify to live there. Their lease on the homes would range from $650 to $850 a month and tenants who live there 15 years would have a chance to own the home.
The developer must manage the property for 15 years, he said, and build a community center for residents with funds from the tax credit.
Chartre Consulting owns dozens of tax credit housing communities in other areas of South Mississippi and throughout the state.