Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes confirmed Thursday the historic Markham Building downtown has a new owner.
Virginia attorney Robert Lubin closed the deal last week, Hewes said.
“This is one of the last remaining eyesores from Katrina and it has always been an iconic building for downtown Gulfport,” Hewes said. “The prospect of it being put back into active use is very encouraging, very promising — kind of the final piece of downtown and a complement for the immediate area.”
Locals can recall plenty of great years at the former hotel built in 1927. But as other downtown areas have rebuilt and flourished in the 10-plus years since Hurricane Katrina, the Markham has sat empty and boarded up.
Talks for Lubin to purchase and develop the building have gone on for months, but issues with historic preservation tax credits, among other things, have slowed the process.
“This is very welcome news for a property that has served us for generations,” Hewes said. “A lot of folks have a lot of great memories there.”
The Markham is just one piece of development in the area. It is adjacent to the site of a planned aquarium and public transport hub.
Lubin is also one of the partners involved in a proposed harbor casino in Gulfport. The developers got a 60-year lease with Gulfport for the casino and have sent paperwork asking for site approval from the Mississippi Gaming Commission.
Lubin also joined a New Orleans group that plans to finance development of the old Veterans Affairs property, known as Centennial Plaza, on Beach Boulevard — another project that could go forward now that state historic preservation tax credits have been replenished.
He also has bought a vacant lot adjacent to the Markham.
Lubin could not immediately be reached for comment, and Hewes said he did not have a timeline for when work on the hotel could start. Developers are considering whether to use the building for office space, apartments or a hotel.
“We believe there is an opportunity for any of these categories in the city,” Hewes said. “With this announcement, we’re hoping the developers will breathe new life into a grand old building.”
Downtown Gulfport projects
- Renovation of the historic Markham Building
- Mississippi Aquarium
- Harbor casino
- New public transportation hub