BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi City Council members want answers about how the city will market Caillavet Street in the future. At the July 15, meeting, the council will ask for a strategic plan to make sure Biloxi is getting the most out of a $9 million investment to widen the street.
Back in the early 2000s, Biloxi leaders said widening Caillavet Street would be the catalyst to turning the road into a business Mecca. Now in 2014, Caillavet is much wider, but some business owners say there isn't much commercial activity going on.
It has been more than a decade since Desporte and Son's Seafood relocated to Division Street from Caillavet Street. The family run store was among the many homes and businesses uprooted to make way for a wider Caillavet Street.
"I wish we could have still had the property where the IP is," said Sean Desporte, business owner. "It would have been really good right by the casinos, but we're doing really good over here. You adapt to the environment you're at, so we're doing really good."
Things haven't been so good on Caillavet Street where there are plenty of empty lots. Business owners say it's the economy.
"People are having trouble wanting to spend the money in this area," said Fred Schwan, business owner. "It's a low lying area. Insurance is tough. Loans are tough to get right now. People need an incentive to come and build in this area."
Millions were spent to entice businesses by widening the road and putting in new sidewalks and lighting, yet city leaders admit the commercial boom never came.
"It hasn't as of yet. One of the biggest problems we've had was when Hurricane Katrina struck. We were just wrapping up the Caillavet Street project, and what has happened since the hurricane is we've had the oil spill, we've had the national recession and a large part of that has been declared a flood zone along Caillavet Street," said Biloxi Spokesman Vincent Creel.
City leaders say they have a plan for Caillavet.
"What we think is going to happen is once we build that extension of Back Bay Boulevard to Pine Street, we're going to have a traffic loop that will connect Pine Street with Back Bay Boulevard, Caillavet and Highway 90. We think the baseball stadium is going to be a big impact for all of Caillavet Street there," said Creel.
Then everyone is hoping Caillavet will get a boost from the baseball stadium.
"It's going to take more businesses to come in to get along Caillavet Street. I think once the baseball stadium builds here, it ought to start filling up again," Desporte said.
Some business owners who didn't want to talk on camera told me they believe the building codes the city adopted after Hurricane Katrina have also hurt development on Caillavet.