A historic house at 604 Porter St. in a neighborhood near downtown is under reconstruction.
What used to be The Porter House restaurant — and then several other businesses through the years — is being renovated for a new project under the name Big Yella.
Joe Cloyd, part of the limited-liability corporation that bought the two-story house in May, is planning to put in offices and possibly a residential component, city officials said.
The property, at Martin Avenue and Porter Street, is zoned neighborhood commercial so it could be used for neighborhood retail.
Cloyd applied for a pre-construction city tax exemption based on the value of the project. He estimated the cost of construction at $191,000. Ocean Springs has a tax exemption policy to encourage construction valued at $20,000 or more. It means that for a number of years, Cloyd will be able to save on city property taxes. The county also has exemptions to encourage growth.
The building “has been all kinds of things,” Mayor Connie Moran said. “It has been a house, a restaurant, a gym, an office, a thrift store.”
City planner Carolyn Martin said it has an apartment in it now and could continue to have a residential component, but she said the owner is “still working out the details” of the final plans.
It’s in a historic district and a big sign on the property says Cloyd has applied to the Ocean Springs Historic Preservation Commission about the improvements to the property.
Paperwork filed with the city says he plans to bring back the classic front porch that faces Martin Avenue, replace rusted roof panels and improve the parking lot, giving the huge Live oak more room for its roots.
On Tuesday night, city leaders approved a pre-construction tax exemption, which doesn’t negate school taxes.
Cloyd expects the project to be complete by mid-December.