An aerial view of Biloxi, taken shortly after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city.
BILOXI, Miss. (AP) Mayor A.J. Holloway said $80 million in construction is in progress across Biloxi, and more is on the way.
Speaking at a recent Biloxi Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Holloway presented a list of residential developments, new churches and business expansions that are keeping cranes and construction crews busy in the city.
“As you can see we have a lot of millions in the works now in Biloxi,” he said.
Three projects — a new hotel tower at Hard Rock Casino in East Biloxi, Beauvoir Library in West Biloxi and Santa Maria del Mar apartments in North Biloxi — account for 80 percent of the current spending, Holloway said.
“One of the things that impresses me about the development is it’s in every part of the city,” said Jerry Creel, the city’s community development director.
He said construction on a Raising Cane’s restaurant was scheduled to begin outside Edgewater Mall, and two more new stores, Crazy 8 and Men’s Wearhouse, are coming inside the mall. Leggett Memorial Church is going up along the beach and First Pentecostal Church is under construction on Popp’s Ferry Road in North Biloxi. The Mississippi Gulf Coast Community Culinary School in West Biloxi is nearing completion and White Pillars on the Biloxi Strip is undergoing a restoration and expansion.
Most of the new homes are being built north of the Back Bay.
Creel said, “Residential construction and our growth are moving toward the northeast part of the city.”
Like cities across the country, building has been a challenge. Creel said Roy Anderson Corp. just pulled a permit to finish construction of the library at Beauvoir after another contractor went out of business.
The city will see much more building in 2013. Golden Nugget plans a $150 million renovation and expansion when the sale of Isle Casino Biloxi is finalized.
“They’re supposed to close within the next 30 days,” Creel said.
The review process for a new hospital near Interstate 10 also is close to ending so construction can begin. Monte Bostwick, CEO of Biloxi Regional Medical Center, said he expects the certificate of need to be issued by the end of the year for a 144-bed, $133 million hospital.
About $50 million in infrastructure work will be in progress or about to start by the new year and $300 million more is still in planning stages to restore the city’s infrastructure from damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.
Marvin Dalla Rosa with HNTB, which is overseeing the $350 million project for the city, said 1 million feet of water, sewer and storm lines will be replaced and the streets over them repaired to provide the foundation for more growth in Biloxi.
He said the work will be a big boost to the economy as local contractors hire additional workers and national contractors bring in staff to live and spend money in Biloxi.
He said the scope of the project is incredible, with 16 design firms working on plans.
The contract for work on the northeast portion of the peninsula will be $120 million.
“It’s a huge amount of work in a very small part of town,” he said.
And $95 million will be spent on infrastructure south of the railroad tracks from Point Cadet to Interstate 110 and $32 million west of there down U.S. Highway 90.
The city has replaced most of the buildings damaged during Katrina. Now, Dalla Rosa said, “you’re getting to do it on your infrastructure.”
Among the last projects around the city are building an $8.5 million public works building Holloway said should be complete in September 2014, using only FEMA money. FEMA and insurance proceeds also will rebuild the Biloxi Maritime & Seafood Museum and create an adjacent park at Point Cadet.
The area around the Pass Road and Popp’s Ferry corner is one place that has seen empty buildings since stores moved to other areas of the city.
Biloxi has a solution for that, Creel said. “We know when Popp’s Ferry is extended to 90, the old Wal-Mart site and Stein-Mart will be a very desired retail location.”