BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Catholic Diocese of Biloxi officials said the senior housing program has faced a lot of road blocks trying to bounce back from Hurricane Katrina. However, on Friday the first residents will move into the brand new Santa Maria Del Mar Apartment Community in Biloxi.
Workers are busy doing last minute set up round the Santa Maria Del Mar Apartment community.
"We're doing punch list and installing furniture, arranging things. We're qualifying residents for move ins. We're advertising and showing the property on a daily basis," said Craig Bounds of Sunstates Management.
There are 209 units, including efficiencies and one bedroom apartments. To qualify, people must be at least 62-years-old. Officials said the age of the residents played an important role in designing the Santa Maria.
"In the case of evacuations, city firefighters are not required to carry residents down 13 floors, which would happen in the old tower," said Diocese Secretary of Housing Greg Crapo. "So cutting it down to two twin six story towers would make for a quicker evacuation."
Now that the city of Biloxi has given the Diocese a certificate of occupancy and residents can move in, Diocese officials said they have started the process of transferring their HUD Section 8 contract to the new location from the Highway 90 tower. The Diocese's plan is to then start looking for potential buyers for the tower.
"The building seems to have utilities still. We think somebody will be able to put it to good use," Bounds said.
At Santa Maria Del Mar, the staff hopes seniors will be able make good use of their golden years
"All too often I think that as we get older, we lower our activities. We stop going out. We sit in front of a TV set a little too much," said Crapo. "In this type of a surrounding, people are more apt to intermingle and associate. Just sit on the back porch and have nice long conversations and drink a lemonade and just enjoy life."
Diocese Officials said one reason for not demolishing at this time is the expense. The old tower would have to be imploded and that would mean surrounding businesses would have to be closed for two days. Officials said FEMA would pay for demolition, but not for the business interruption costs that would have to be paid to places like McDonald's and the Hard Rock Casino.