BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Coast Coliseum has a $1 million plan to shorten the time it takes for people to walk from their parking spots to convention center meeting rooms. Most of the houses on Oakwood Drive will be coming down to make way for an additional parking lot.
On Tuesday, Coliseum Director Bill Holmes will go before the Biloxi City Council and ask the city to vacate the street so that the Coliseum can add 350 new spaces.
Oakwood Drive is located north of the Coliseum next to the railroad tracks. Coliseum Director Bill Holmes said the location of the new parking lot is one of the major reasons why it's so badly needed.
An agreement with the owner of the Old Holiday Inn property on Highway 90 allows the Coast Coliseum to use the empty land as overflow parking space for hundreds of cars. Holmes said the Coliseum can't count on this deal lasting forever.
"We're using the old Holiday Inn property as a satellite property," said Holmes. "The possibility of a hotel going there is very strong. So if we lose that satellite parking area, we'll lose 357 parking spaces there."
Holmes said, "So we need another place to pick them up. So we saw that several years ago. The commission allowed us to start buying the neighborhood up and that's what we did."
It took two years for the Coliseum to buy 10 of 12 the homes on Oakwood Drive. Now the Coliseum is ready to move forward with turning this into a parking lot with 350 new spaces.
"If everything goes well with the city of Biloxi tomorrow, then we'll start demolition probably the end of April. We're ready to go and it's just a matter of probably five months we'll have the new parking lot up and ready to put on line," said Holmes.
Right now, visitors have to walk 1,000 feet through the convention center to go to the meeting rooms. Holmes said that inconvenience has led to many complaints from visitors. The new parking lot will allow people easier access.
"It will provide another 350 spaces directly across from the meeting rooms, banquet halls so when the people come into the facility they can park here in this parking lot and be within 150 feet of their meeting rooms," Holmes said.
The Coliseum purchased 10 homes on Oakwood Drive, but for the immediate future they only plan to tear down nine. Director Bill Holmes said the Coliseum purchased a house from a senior citizen and have agreed to allow her to continue to live there.