Unique casino concept may gamble on Hancock County

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - There is a new proposal on the table that may bring a third casino resort development to Hancock County.  South Beach Convention Hotel and Entertainment Center is proposed to go up on land on South Beach Boulevard between Pointsette Avenue and the Clermont Harbor Pier.

The project faces its first hurdle when it goes before the Planning and Zoning Commission next week.

Russell Elliott is the co-developer of the Hancock County project.  "This project is going to include other facilities besides just a hotel and casino," Elliott explained.  "We're going to have a convention center.  We're going to have a family entertainment center.  The casino is not our main focus. Our main focus our focus is the other functions.  And our other functions are intended to bring more people to the area."

Elliott was born and raised in the Clermont Harbor community. He says this project is designed help the area come back.  "This area needs some help," he said.  "It's a depressed area since Katrina. It's been very hard hit. We're going to create approximately 1,200 jobs during the construction phase, and permanent jobs will be about a thousand."

The proposal goes before the Hancock County Planning and Zoning Commission for site approval next week.  That commission must approve a variance for the project if this casino resort is ever going to be built.

A C-3 casino resort district calls for the development to sit on at least five acres.  But, developers only have 3.9 acres.  Elliott noted the casino down the street is in a similar land predicament.  But, it's operating.  "The Silver Slipper our neighbor is sitting on less than three acres," he said.

If South Beach ultimately gets the go ahead from all of the regulatory agencies that must approve a casino project, Elliott believes it will be a development like no other.  "This is going to be a community oriented project," he said.  "It's going to be a different structure than you've ever seen before not only in Mississippi but in the United States.  It's going to be working along with the community in ownership and in participation."

He says if all goes as planned he hopes to break ground in six months.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will consider the proposal at its October 3 meeting.

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