Business experts: Tax breaks will help Biloxi beachfront

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The West Biloxi beachfront is poised for a strong post Katrina comeback, according to a Coast business insider.

This week the Biloxi city council approved a hospitality industry property tax break for a new seafood restaurant on Highway 90. The owner's business consultant said, with the kinds of incentives Biloxi is offering, a lot more waterfront development is on the horizon.

South of Highway 90 between Veterans and Rodenburg Avenues will be the new Blue Crab Restaurant. Plans are to build the seafood restaurant and have customers dining on fresh seafood by the start of the summer.

"The owner is already a well known restaurateur in Biloxi," said F. Cliff Kirkland, business consultant. "He's been successful. He's looked at this area for quite awhile and was actually encouraged by the incentives that the City of Biloxi offers for development on the West Beach."

Biloxi created the incentives to help businesses offset high construction and insurance costs for building or expanding along the Biloxi beachfront. Blue Crab is the seventh business to be awarded a 100 percent property tax break for seven years.

Biloxi Community Development Director Jerry Creel said, "We're excited about this. Because what it shows is that we're now getting some of the smaller restaurants rebuilding on beach front, which is something that we really need."

Still there are several large tracks on vacant lots where before Katrina there was commercial development. Kirkland said he doesn't expect it to be that way for much longer.

"Obviously, we've been delayed in our recovery from Katrina. Mostly because of flood issues and insurance issues. The flood situation is stabilized. The maps have been drawn. People know what their responsibilities are," Kirkland said.

"The insurance has stabilized some in the last couple of years so the time is right for more development. The time is right for what we anticipate will be several in this area and quite a few more along the Biloxi beachfront."

Kirkland said his client has also approached Harrison County for a property tax break. He said tax breaks can be the difference as to whether a business opens.

"Because they provide an opportunity to lower your start up costs," said Kirkland. "As you know opening on the front beach down here is an expensive proposition. With insurance and any moneys that a small business can save in terms of opening and starting costs have a great deal to do with the decision of whether to go forward or not."

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