Walmart wins partial approval for Biloxi Supercenter plans

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Danielle Thomas – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi residents are closer to being able to shop in their own Walmart Supercenter. On Thursday, the Planning Commission unanimously approved some of the plans that will allow the retail giant to build a 165,000 square foot store on 21 acres between Ct. Switzer Road and Beach Boulevard.

Walmart officials say the development is all about providing an economic boost to the city.

"We believe that Walmart's development will be an opportunity for the city of Biloxi to attract patrons from a fairly large geographic area to the coast and to your home area," said Leslie Scott, attorney and Walmart spokesperson. "Therefore, will increase the economic viability of this particular area, which has not had any on this property for some time."

Company officials say by the first quarter of 2012, they'd like to open a Biloxi Supercenter. The Supercenter would replace its Pass Road store which Walmart officials say is in a building the company leases. Walmart officials say they're working to make sure they won't be leaving behind a large empty property.

Tommy Vervaeke is a real estate consultant for Walmart.

"I've had several several calls on it," Vervaeke said. "It's kind of like a main to main intersection for that area, so I don't foresee any problems with that area going dark."

Biloxi Community Development Director Jerry Creel told the Biloxi Planning Commission that after a year of negotiations, he's impressed by Walmart's commitment to the project moving forward.

"We believe they've made a wonderful effort to create a very nice project," said Creel. "Usually a project this complicated has a number of variance requests. We applaud their effort to make the project work within the site and we wholeheartedly recommend approval for this change."

Commissioners followed Creel's advice and gave Walmart the approval it was looking for. The Biloxi Planning Commission signed off on plat plans and a variance request that Walmart officials say was necessary to establish sufficient parking for the store. However, commissioners did not take up a tree removal permit Walmart officials say they need.

Company officials said the proposed store in Biloxi would be similar in size to the Pass Christian site.

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