Big Plans For "Cadillac Club" Boost Downtown Gulfport

There are new plans in the works for a historic building on 27th Avenue in the heart of downtown Gulfport. Recent attempts to resurrect the site have all failed.

The former "Cadillac Club" has been home to a night club, several restaurants and a strip club. All eventually closed due to a lack of business.

But the new owner of the building believes the timing is right for her vision and project plans. Ginny Macken is determined to attract new customers and residents to the old Cadillac Club building. Her dream combines an elegant Italian restaurant, a local dinner theater, and condominiums.

The old letters are coming off the building. In fact, anything "cadillac" will soon be a memory at the historic building on 27th avenue. The owner wants folks to forget the former businesses that called this building home. Macken is banking on big changes downtown.

"I think before the federal building goes in, I think everybody's going to see a big change," Macken said. "I think downtown Gulfport is going to be resurrected."

The second floor night club will be transformed into a cozy dinner theater. Plaster and wood will be ripped away to reveal the original brick work.

The contractor leading the renovation is quite familiar with the building. Hugo Reverse bought the building and opened the first "Cadillac Cafe" in 1992. He later closed the restaurant and sold the building after investing and losing a half million dollars.

He never dreamed he'd return as the contractor working to renovate the place.

"No. Never, never, never. This blew my mind for sure," Reverse said.

The building's first floor will soon undergo a major rebuilding project. The former '50s decor and collectible cars will give way to an Italian restaurant and deli.

A large part of the work will involve emphasizing original architecture. Years of night club decorating hide the historic feel of the building.

"Everything has been covered up with plaster and black paint to make it work as a night club, but I think she's going to expose all that," Reverse said. "And once the building gets its originality back, it will definitely be a big change."

The project is part of a much larger change the building owner envisions.

"Everybody is standing behind it," Macken said. "The downtown association is going great guns. And I think there's a lot of things happening downtown in Gulfport now."