Ocean Springs Eyesore Coming Down

The blue boarded-up building near the Biloxi-Ocean Springs Bridge has been sitting vacant for at least 20-years. Now, what was once home to Allman's Restaurant is slowly coming down. The Biloxi family that owns the building is demolishing it, after the city declared it "unsafe and a threat".

Developer George Schamberger has a vision for the site and its gorgeous view. Schamberger wants to spend $7.5 million to build what he calls the biggest marina in South Mississippi on the four-acre property.

The plans are very preliminary right now. In fact, he hasn't even approached the city with the concept.

"What we're looking at here would be a 400-slip marina, with full-service docks, a restaurant location and a marine repair, marine store location," George Schamberger said.

Schamberger believes the project would draw boaters to Ocean Springs because of the big demand for boat slips.

"The study that we were able to get from the state shows the need for about 6,000 boat slips along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. We plan on condo-ing our boat slips. We're going to sell them to the individual owners. We are not selling the bottom. We're not selling the tidelands. We're selling the use of space in the dockage that's in the area. None of the state property would be involved."

City Planner Donovan Scruggs says city leaders haven't seen the proposal yet, but he has some concerns.

"Parking could be a very big issue because it would require a lot of parking, and some of that area looks to be very environmentally sensitive. Some of the concerns we have are primarily how the site will be developed. We do know that a restaurant can cause problems and is a pretty intensive use."

Other hurdles include lighting, acquiring city and state permits, and the project's impact on surrounding neighborhoods. Alderman-at-large Danny Jalanivich believes the neighbors and marina can co-exist.

"This property has been vacant for years and it's only drawn little taxes. If we have a marina, and a nice restaurant, it's going to be a boost to the sales tax of Ocean Springs. I would hope the project, the city, the neighborhood could all come together and make this a reality."

"It's a tremendous improvement to what's here now.  I think it would clean up the area quite a bit, and make it a destination," Schamberger said.

Although the property allows for a marina, it's no longer zoned for a restaurant. That means the developer needs a special use permit to open a restaurant, called "The Dock". He hopes to close on the $2.9 million property on August 1st.