Centennial Plaza making progress in Gulfport

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - You can expect to see more construction work soon at Centennial Plaza in Gulfport. That's the old VA property the city has been trying to develop for several years now. And even though it may not look any different, the project is moving forward.

It is perhaps the most prime commercial property in all of Gulfport. In May of 2012, city leaders gathered at Centennial Plaza to sign a long term development lease and share a vision.

"I want to tell you I think you're a part of history. And I want you to mark today as being a special day in our lives going forward," Mayor George Schloegel told the crowd at that gathering.

Nearly a year later, the property's potential hasn't been unlocked just yet. But there are signs of progress from the developer.

"I will say to you that they have already started signing some pre-lease agreements with tenants. Which the city is very excited about," said the City of Gulfport's Chief Administrator, Dr. John Kelly.

Project plans call for a diversity of commercial development, including high end retail, restaurants and possibly a medical component. Housing is also part of that plan.

"What we envision there would probably be long term leases on condominiums. That will probably go somewhere over on the eastern side of the campus. But it's going to be a real mixed use development," Dr. Kelly explained.

Before any tenants can occupy the 10 historic buildings on campus, infrastructure comes first; things like water lines and electrical.

"Actual construction itself on the site. And you will see some dirt start to move fairly quickly out there," he said.

Dr. Kelly says several economic signs are pointing toward more progress with this project. Banks are stepping forward, willing to lend money to developers, the interest rates are quite favorable for new development and construction, and the housing market is starting to rebound.

All are good signs for the future Centennial Plaza.

"Things are lining up now," said the administrator.

He says the project will happen in phases. The 10 historic buildings on the campus will likely be leased first. The overall plans also call for new construction, but the architecture must be similar to the existing structures.

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