Gulfport planning commission approves Hemingway Resort & Casino

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Rotate Black is getting closer to being able to break ground on a new Gulfport casino and developers are already thinking expansion. On Thursday, officials said they cleared their last major hurdle when the planning commission gave unanimous approval for the Hemingway Resort and Casino. After the meeting, Rotate Black president Dual Cooper talked about the long term plan.

Right now it's virtually an empty lot but plans are to transform several acres of the land next to the Gulfport Harbor into the new Hemingway Resort and Casino. Architects said Hemingway will reflect elegance both inside and out from the Spanish Mission style exterior design to the more than 200 four-star hotel rooms.

Cooper said achieving four-star status comes with more than 30 requirements.

"How you do you bathroom, your showers, how you do the bedroom, everything," said Cooper. "The difference is you can feel it."

Rotate Black will widen part of 27th Avenue into a four-lane boulevard with a median of trees and shrubs to handle the added traffic. As with all Hemingway properties, officials said the casino will include a library in tribute to legendary author Ernest Hemingway.

"It makes us different. It's easy just to put up rooms, and a front desk and a bar and this or that and a casino and say this is what we have," Cooper said. "We're not going to be there. We're looking to enlarge the project as soon as we can."

The Gulfport Planning Commission approved the casino plans on the condition that the zoning board sign off on height and setback variances. Rotate Black officials said the presentation commissioners saw was just the beginning of a four year plan.

"A parking garage and 200 more rooms," said Cooper. "We're going to probably take the casino up another 60 percent. Add a couple of restaurants. Really make it larger and better."

Officials said they plan to go before the zoning board with their variance requests in October and hopefully start construction in November.

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