GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Island View Casino Resort is moving forward with its $50 million expansion plan. Thursday morning, the casino entered into a new lease agreement with the State Port at Gulfport.
Officials from Island View and the Port signed a lease, opening a new chapter in the relationship between the port and the casino.
"It cleans up the old lease we assumed from the Grand," said Island View co-owner Rick Carter. "It had about 20 addendums that did not pertain to what we're doing now. We cleaned it up and extended it for 50 years. It allows us to develop the property to its greatest potential."
Island View plans to invest $50 million in an expansion project. The old hotel tower on the south side of highway 90, abandoned since Katrina will get a complete makeover.
According to Carter, the ripple effect will be significant
"We'll add 400 rooms. That is a nearly 100 percent increase; We already have 560. It gives us the ability to go outside the market and bring in people from around the country."
The lease gives Island View and the port a clean slate. The opening of the new hotel by the summer of 2015 will bolster employment at the port.
"As soon as it's built, it'll add several hundred jobs. That's several hundred more jobs we'll have on port property," said Port Commission President Jim Simpson.
The rooms will be totally renovated to reflect what's called a South Beach atmosphere. Island View hopes the expansion will bear fruit for its bottom line.
The city of Gulfport is expecting to benefit from the investment, as well.
"Anytime you have something positive like this, you know it will yield good things. It'll bring people here to see what we have to offer. There's every reason to be excited about this project," said Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes.
The renovation includes updating the parking garage on port property. It's scheduled to be completed by the summer of 2015.