Official Who Helped Oversee Biloxi Building Boom Retires - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/08/05

Official Who Helped Oversee Biloxi Building Boom Retires

The man who helped oversee Biloxi's building boom is stepping down.

Longtime city building official, Bill Prince, is retiring. He's helped regulate some $34 billion in new construction in the city since 1992.

Prince had a pretty good idea about the kind of building boom coast casinos would create. After all, he used to live in Reno, Nevada, and witnessed plenty of casino-driven construction there. But even Prince is amazed at all the new development in Biloxi.

The east end of the Biloxi waterfront used to be lined with shuttered seafood factories. Then casinos came to town.

"It all happened at once. And right now it's catching its second breath. And I'm running out of my last breath, so," said Bill Prince.

So, Prince is retiring while the extended building boom in Biloxi continues. Hard Rock is just one more example of casino driven growth. But it reaches beyond commercial construction.

"It goes right down to our single family residences. We have built, brought so many homes out of the ground, that I don't know where the people are coming from," he said.

Of all the casino projects Prince recalls, he'd probably just as soon forget the dispute over two extra floors at Imperial Palace. The city's building boss has no regrets.

"Everybody called us and said where was the building department when they added those two floors? Well, if I caught my men standing around down there counting those floors every day instead of doing their job, I'd probably fire them," he admitted.

Fellow workers, contractors and friends said farewell at a retirement party. Those who know Bill Prince weren't surprised when he reflected the praise to his team.

"I really appreciate them. Because I couldn't have never done it without them," he told the group.

Prince never lost sight of the most important element of all this new construction: making sure the buildings are built right.

"I can rest easy at night knowing our buildings are the safest there is in the country," Prince said.

Not only did he help oversee $34 billion worth of new construction since 1992, but Prince's building department also collected some $31 million in permit fees during that same time.

By Steve Phillips

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