PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - It's being called the largest retail development right now in the city of Pass Christian. On Thursday, a group of developers dedicated a total of 12 new and existing businesses on Davis Avenue. The complex is expected to inject new life into the downtown area.
Hurricane Katrina ripped apart the heart of Pass Christian. The downtown area is coming back piece by piece.
One large piece is Sazerac Square, a $2 million development that's going up on Davis Avenue. There's a lot of history behind the unusual name.
"We found that located on the property that we bought was a Sazerac Saloon, one of the first bars in Pass Christian, we thought that was pretty neat," said Adam Pace of the Sazerac Group.
Twelve businesses make up Sazerac Square. Four of them are currently part of Martin Plaza. The rest are new buildings.
"At the back of it, we came back and added a mixed-use building that has retail on the bottom and residential above," said Pace. "And now we'll bring in the new project, which consists of six new construction buildings."
The new structures will house Kimball's Seafood Market, a jewelry store, gift shop, and clothing boutique. Other potential tenants include a sushi bar and a restaurant.
"And that's saying a lot for our town," said Pace. "We're basically doubling the amount of retail on Davis Avenue with one development."
The partners are Adam Pace, Ben Puckett, Sr. and Ben Puckett, Jr. They are taking advantage of a new tax abatement program in the city, in which only their land is taxed over the next seven years.
Plus, the city has relaxed it building codes for developments on Davis Avenue and Market Street for the next eight years.
"It's an economic development tool. It allows them to come in and jumpstart their development," said Abby Eisen, Pass Christian City Planner. "And it's really going to create the cultural center for Pass Christian that we desperately need."
The developers hope Sazerac Square will become a shopping center and pump more life into the heart of the Pass.
"With the completion of the roadwork and the completion of existing construction, we feel like Davis Avenue is looking for a bright future," said Pace.
Pace said some of the tenants can start moving into the buildings in early December.