Biloxi & Salvation Army Both Bidding For Dukate Property

The Salvation Army may have to rethink its plans to build a community center on the old Dukate Elementary School property in Biloxi. City leaders say they want to put a city-run community center there. The charity, the city and a third party have now bid on the property.

Thursday afternoon, workers moved the last few pieces of furniture from Dukate Elementary School. The Salvation Army has dreams of using a multi-million dollar donation to turn Dukate into a Center of Hope.

"It's centrally located. We need a minimum of seven acres," Salvation Army Board Member Frank Genzer said.

But the city has dreams of its own.

"We were looking at that property to build a new community center, but nothing that would compete with the Salvation Army projects, programs that they have," Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway said.

Mayor Hollway says the city supports the Salvation Army's plans for a Center of Hope, but a city community center in East Biloxi, similar to the Donal Snyder center on the west side of town, has long been a goal.

"The community center we have across the street there is an old community center," Holloway said. "We don't meet all the ADA requirements. It would take over a million dollars to retrofit the old community center and still have an old building."

The Salvation Army has millions to spend on its center.

"If we do win the bid," Genzer said, "we're planning on building the Center of Hope, which is approximately a 30,000 square foot building that will include a gymnasium, a nanatorium, a performing arts center, multipurpose rooms for other types of education facilities, as well as management offices, and a chapel."

"I don't think this is anything about who's going to win on this bid," Holloway said.

Holloway said the city and the Salvation Army have the same goal - serving the people of east Biloxi.

The Biloxi School District's Board of Trustees has 30 days to accept one of the bids, and it may not be the highest. The board is required to consider the "highest and best use" of the property.

Here's a quick rundown of the bids:

The Salvation Army bid $1,150,00 for all the property and the school.

The City of Biloxi bid $1,075,000.

A third bid came from the Gulf Coast Carnival Association, which offered $92,400 for one parcel of the land. The carnival association wants move its Mardi Gras float den closer to the parade route.