BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - There's a transformation about to get underway at Grand Casino resort in Biloxi. The changes include a massive demolition, new amenities and refurbished hotel rooms.
As promised, 2014 is a year of big change at the Grand Biloxi. And it's not only construction projects and improvements; the resort is also changing brand names to Harrah's Gulf Coast.
Heavy equipment is now staging south of Highway 90 for what will be the biggest project at Grand Biloxi. Demolition crews will remove tons of steel and concrete that remain from what was-to-be a $700 million Margaritaville resort back in 2007. The Grand will turn that eyesore into an outdoor amenity.
"The creation of an entertainment lawn and a boardwalk area for us to use as concerts and festivals. Really the options are limitless. But we're excited to get that underway. The construction team is staging their equipment and we expect the first pieces of concrete to come down beginning next week," said Grand Biloxi marketing vice president, Kennedy Smith.
Big changes are coming north of Highway 90 as well.
"Not just a full casino remodel, but the introduction of 100 percent new video poker machines as well as new slot machines. In addition to that, we're going to be adding three new food and beverage outlets, one of which is going to be our fine dining restaurant by celebrity chef, Kelly English," said Smith.
As for the hotel, changes are coming there as well.
"Inside we're going to go ahead and be renovating all 500 of our hotel rooms, with a special emphasis on suites," said Smith.
Along with all the physical changes, the brand will also be new: Harrah's Gulf Coast.
"Regionally and nationally that Harrah's band carries a lot of weight. The Grand name is a single brand within our company of Caesar's Entertainment, whereas the Harrah's brand is well recognizable throughout the United States," said Smith.
Not only will the longtime eyesore be demolished, but the construction materials removed from this site will be recycled into a fishing reef at nearby Katrina Key.
"Take something that was an eyesore and something perceived as a negative into a positive. Not only with the addition of Katrina Key, but also with the addition of a wonderful great lawn and entertainment area," said Smith.
No word from Grand Biloxi about the cost of all these projects.
By the way, the two pedestrian crossovers above Highway 90 will be restored and re-opened to the public. That big demolition job is expected to be finished by sometime this summer.