Post Katrina tax break program showing results

The American Legion building in downtown Biloxi is being renovated and will include a new restaurant and retail.
The American Legion building in downtown Biloxi is being renovated and will include a new restaurant and retail.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It's a tax break designed to attract economic development. And on Monday, Harrison County supervisors approved tax exemptions for two more projects in Biloxi.

This program created after Katrina is showing results.

The ongoing renovation of the American Legion building in downtown Biloxi, to create restaurant and retail space. And the recent transformation of a Division Street shopping center into a medical services complex. Both projects qualify for tax exemptions on the improvements.

"From my point of view, it's granting you this exemption under the assumption there's going to be creation of additional jobs," said supervisor, Marlin Ladner.

In the case of the American Legion building, restaurant jobs are coming.

"We have the top floor leased to a restaurant lounge. And I actually do not know how many employees, but they will have as many as the Half Shell has," said Arlene Wall, who is an owner of the building.

That project is also expected to attract a retail or restaurant tenant on the ground floor.

"The downstairs is suitable for retail or a lounge restaurant. And whoever comes along, that will be great," Wall told supervisors.

The wellness clinic and medical services development helped rejuvenate a neighborhood. Available tax breaks will help offset the cost of the project.

"Why we give these abatements? We want to make sure that there's a renovation and rejuvenation of the neighborhood. This is good for Biloxi. It's good for Harrison County," said Supervisor Windy Swetman.

Supervisor Swetman says, keep in mind, the tax abatement applies only to the improvements. Taxes will still be paid on the property and existing structure before renovation or expansion.

"And it's something that certainly when they go and put the pencil to the paper, this makes a difference on development," said Supervisor Swetman.

Other recent projects which qualified for the tax break include a restaurant addition and a new restaurant; both located on the beach in Biloxi.

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