BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - After many years of discussion, Biloxi is finally moving forward with a plan that could turn Division Street into a strong economic corridor. The city council voted unanimously to allow purchase price negotiations to begin with several area property owners. The property is needed to construct a new gate leading into Keesler Air Force Base.
The owners of Desporte and Sons' Seafood say they'd sell more oysters and shrimp if there were more cars on Division Street and a new gate to Keesler would make that happen.
"I think it's great,"said Sean Desporte, owner. "This year with the economy the way it is, I think we're looking forward to something coming to hopefully boost business. It will be a great traffic flow us. Hopefully it will be good for business."
Back in 2003, Biloxi and Keesler officials agreed to build a gate at the west end of Division Street to replace White Avenue as the main entrance.
"They want to put a huge gate in that area," said George Lawrence, Ward One. "I think it's a great opportunity for the city of Biloxi. Also it would create another business district down Division Street so I think it's a great idea. It's just the first step we're taking, and we're working on that now."
Before the gate can go up, Biloxi must first purchase several parcels of land where Division meets Forest Avenue.
"The city is looking at the property and seeing the availability," said Lawrence. "I think Keesler is looking three to four lots right there. That's what we need to find out from them is how many lots they need. We'll have to deal with the people that own property and see where we're going from there."
Meanwhile, the Desportes say if the gate comes to Division more businesses will follow.
"I think it's going to bring more business to this end of town," said Sean Desporte. "It should make everything better. The traffic flow will be better, and it will be better for Biloxi. "
Biloxi city officials say making Division Street the main entrance to Keesler would give drivers a direct route to the base off I-110 and increase base security.