New project could spur beachfront business in Biloxi

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Krystal Allan – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Just west of Biloxi's Porter Avenue sits a vacant property that could get a major facelift. A new development called Porter Place is ready to move in.

"This is the first project that's actually come in, and it's prepared to move forward very quickly," said Jerry Creel, Biloxi Community Development Director.

Plans call for two hotels and a building with commercial and residential space.  Mike Bodreaux, a developer with Gulf Coast Investment Development, said it took some strategizing to get the $35 million project off the ground.

"There's still a downturn in the economy. Financing for any project is still very difficult. The ability to be able to phase this in, we'll have the likelihood of getting it financed," said Bodreaux.

The project will roll out in three phases. Phase one will sit on the west side of property. It includes a Holiday Inn Express with 115 rooms and a four story parking garage behind it.

"We've got an investment group to come in next week to hopefully put the final touches on that, and the phase one could be as close as 90 days," said Bodreaux.

Phase two will sit to the east off Porter Avenue. It will have space for retail, a restaurant, offices and 14 condos on the top floor. Behind the building, a hotel with 100 rooms will round out phase three of the project.

Bodreaux said it was important to keep the character of Biloxi in mind during the design process. The project had to fit in, according to Bodreaux, with projects already underway, like the new Biloxi Visitors Center under construction next door.

"We are in a historical district. In keeping with the visitor's center look right across from the lighthouse, we wanted to make sure the historical significance was appreciated," said Bodreaux.

The beachfront isn't the only place the project could spur development.  Community Development Director Jerry Creel said it could send more business into the heart of the city.

"Having hotel rooms right across the street [from the new Biloxi Visitor's Center] with restaurants, retail and condos, it kind of forms a nucleus coming into downtown. We're excited to see something to come back in. We're hoping this will set the table for future developments," said Creel.

Bodreaux's company partnered with Harry Baker Smith Architects for the design of the development. If everything is financed as planned, the project would take a little more than three years to complete.

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