Editorials

SUN HERALD |Editorial: Up and down the Coast, there's reason to believe

JUSTIN MITCHELL/SUN HERALD 
 A Virginia attorney who is under contract to buy the old Markham Hotel in downtown Gulfport said he plans to renovate the building either for offices or apartments.
JUSTIN MITCHELL/SUN HERALD A Virginia attorney who is under contract to buy the old Markham Hotel in downtown Gulfport said he plans to renovate the building either for offices or apartments.

Another flurry of key development and some national exposure has the Coast riding a wave of optimism early in 2016.

The Santa Maria Del Mar, a retirement home wrecked by Katrina, is well on its way to a rebirth as a luxury hotel. The building on the beach in Biloxi has been gutted in the first stage of its renewal by the Barrington Development Group. We're looking forward to the same great results Barrington had with the White House, which was a jewel of the Coast before it fell into disrepair. That hotel sparkles once again.

Barrignton also is transforming the old Casino Magic, which has been closed since Katrina, into a water park and hotel.

In Gulfport, a developer has similar plans for another piece of Coast history, the old Markham Hotel. The 1920s-era downtown hotel has been empty and decaying for years, but a Virginia attorney has plans to restore it. That would be a big boost for an already bustling downtown.

The Markham and Centennial Plaza in Gulfport both could benefit from tax credits available to restore historic properties. That pool of state money has run dry, though, and we hope the state can replenish it this session.

The White House, the Markham and Centennial Plaza add to the uniqueness of the Coast, which is already drawing national attention as one of the places to be.

For example:

Who knew that Gulfport, the Coast's biggest city, also was America's most-affordable beach town? SmartAsset website, that's who. It was one of three Coast cities on its affordable beach towns list, a list dominated by Coast beach life. Biloxi was No. 4 and Bay St. Louis was No. 10.

And, Southern Living has learned what we've known for some time. Bay St. Louis is No. 19 on the magazine's list of Best Places in the South. Southern Living likes the Old Town's waterfront restaurants, bars and harbor, and the shops and galleries off the main drag.

Southern Living also named MGM Park in Bilox No. 21 on its list. Biloxi hits a home run, it says. That comes just a few days after the MGM Park drew its biggest crowd ever -- for the Coast MLK celebration and Battle of the Bands.

That record will be tested April 2 when the Milwaukee Brewers take on the Biloxi Shuckers and April 4 when Jackson State University comes to town for an exhibition against the Biloxi Double-A team.

Finally, we have the prospect of yet another casino, this one in the Gulfport Harbor, one of the best spots on the Coast. Our casino market is quite healthy, coming off its best year since 2008. A well-planned addition in Gulfport would keep that industry rolling.

It's going to be a great year.

This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions expressed by columnists, cartoonists and letter writers are their own.

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