In the future Division street merchants will be much more visible to visitors headed towards Keesler Air Force Base. Keesler and the city of Biloxi have agreed to build a new gate at the west end of Division Street to replace White Avenue as the main entrance.
Councilman Jim Compton says one reason for the change is to increase base security, but expects the gate will also open the way for commercial growth.
"It'll give you a lot more traffic flow on Division Street here," said Compton. "I think you'll see more businesses come in because of the traffic so I think it'll be great for the city."
Seafood lovers have long come to Desporte for their shrimp, fish, and oysters but not always at the same location. A year and a half ago the business moved to Division Street. The owners are calling Keesler's new gate a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
Junie Desporte said "I think with this new gate and everything going, we're going to be in the public's eye a little more. With new people at Keesler and the traffic and everything, we're really excited about it."
City officials believe if businesses like Desporte get a economic boost from the gate other merchants will move in and put Division Street on the road to commercial success. Another bonus is that drivers will be able to follow a more direct route to the base.
"Right now we have a lot of problems in my ward with trucks that come for deliveries for Keesler," said Compton. "They're supposed to go all the way down to Highway 90 and go in by White Avenue. This would allow the trucks to go on the interstate, come down Division street and stay off the narrow residential areas."
Keesler will move its visitors center to the new entrance at Division Street. Council member Jim Compton says although the city and the base have made an agreement there is no time frame as of yet for the change, but once changes are made the White Avenue entrance will remain open.