Changes for businesses building downtown in Pass Christian

By Krystal Allan – bio | email

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Businesses that move into downtown Pass Christian will no longer have to stand two stories high. They can now be built just one story high in certain areas of downtown. But, the buildings or transitional structures, as city leaders call them, can only stay downtown for eight years.

"Some people are worried about why we aren't holding businesses to the original standards, and that would be nice. The problem is people are not rushing in on those conditions," says Mayor Chipper McDermott.

City planner, Jeff Bounds says it could cut cost in half for businesses trying to build downtown.

Though the city has relaxed its rules, it isn't allowing business owners to take any short-cuts on the buildings.

"Everything that's built will still have to be compliant with the building code, all the fire regulations and all FEMA regulations. It's just simply helps you to be able to make your project more affordable," says Planning Board Commissioner, Ken Austin.

After the eight years, business owners have three options. They can tear the buildings down, move the transitional buildings to a new location or add on to the existing story, building up to four stories.

City leaders say the idea is to build simple buildings, putting the aesthetics only on the front of the building for sidewalk appeal and to cut cost.

The city's historical commission plans to work with the planning commission to help maintain the city's historic and unique charm.

"We want to re-create the atmosphere that was in Pass Christian before Hurricane Katrina. We'd really like to get Hurricane Katrina out of our vocabulary," says Margaret Jean Kalif of the Pass Christian Historic Commission.

This step is just the first in a three phase process for the evolution of the downtown Pass Christian business community. The second step will include building pavilion areas, with roofs resembling large tents, along the beach front. The third phase would include much smaller buildings, very similar in size to a small Katrina cottage. They would sit in the much smaller, empty lots throughout downtown.

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