Keesler looking to lease prime property for development - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Keesler looking to lease prime property for development

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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Keesler Air Force Base is looking to lease 43 acres of prime commercial property that sits on Back Bay. Potential developers were invited to learn more about the lease process and tour the site on Wednesday.

The choice piece of property is located southeast of Bayview and Benachi Avenues and fronts the Back Bay. It features cleared land and several large live oak trees. Keesler is marketing the site for commercial or mixed-use development.

"We are going to try and answer any question you may have today," the civil engineer representative told the group of potential developers.

The first question came as no surprise. With a large waterfront site in Biloxi, in the shadow of the IP, what about casino development?

"Gaming is not allowed, by law, on federally owned property. So, that'll probably be something that we can't overcome," said Corina Castillo-Johnson, who is with the Air Force General Counsel's Office.

A small group of developers and representatives from various companies are exploring development possibilities.

"The need is going to be based on the market, right? So if the market is in need of a hotel, then that's what will go there," said Castillo-Johnson.

A bus tour gave potential developers a close-up look at the property and let them envision the possibilities. This former housing site is now wide open.

"There is a water line on the north section over here that comes from the base," the utility manager explained during the bus tour.

David Butler represents a solar energy company from Pensacola. He says the renewable energy business is exploring several expansion opportunities.

"It's got a good potential for renewable energy, but we'd like to explore our options a little bit further and see if it's viable in this area," said Butler.

Other than no casinos, there's really no restrictions as to what might be developed on the 43 acres.

At Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, a new hotel project was built on property owned by the Air Force, while in North Las Vegas, developers built a wastewater treatment facility in exchange for building the base a fitness center.

The Air Force will review proposals from all interested parties. A developer could be chosen by this fall.

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