PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - While communities across the coast grapple with ways to use MEMA cottages, Pascagoula has come up with an answer of their own. The city has plans to eventually turn 16 of them into a retail village, and has just received a grant to fund the project.
"MEMA has requested pilot projects across the state," said Program Manager Jaci Turner. "Ways to reuse these cottage units so they don't just surplus them."
Just a few months ago, MEMA cottages lay on different properties throughout Pascagoula. Soon, 16 of them will become a permanent cluster of cottages on Frederick Street, surrounded by landscaping. Turner said the project has seen some setbacks, but a grant from the Gulf Coast Community Foundation will go a long way.
"We just [Monday] were awarded a supplementary grant over $220,000 that will completely fund this project," Turner explained. "In coordination with MEMA, with their donation of the cottages, we are going to get the infrastructure, complete the installation of the cottages and hopefully get this project started within the next few weeks."
The city plans to place four cottages along Frederick Street and four parallel to them, closer to the waterfront. Eight cottages will separate them to form a square. For the first two years, the cottages will be residential, and house people whose permanent homes are not yet complete. The city plans to partner with Habitat for Humanity to find future tenants.
"We're going to contact the people in our community that we're aware of who are having those kinds of problems," Turner said. "There's only going to be 16 units, so it's going to be limited."
After two years, the square is expected to become a town green and a boardwalk will link the cottages, turning the entire complex into a retail village.
"We're seeing things like maybe small art studios, pottery, jewelry, snow cone, coffee shop," listed Turner. "Things like that that require a small space to operate that people would want to walk through and enjoy the ambiance of the area."
They hope the project will give locals another reason to love their city, and give visitors another reason to stop by.