Biloxi chosen as Main Street demonstration site

Biloxi chosen as Main Street demonstration site

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The National Main Street Center chose Biloxi as one of 10 cities nationwide to be demonstration sites for the group's "Refresh" project.

Planners from the National Main Street Center have spent two days surveying Biloxi, with a focus on downtown development.

The goal of the "Refresh" initiative is to help boost the ongoing efforts of the existing Main Street program. Officials have already come up with several recommendations.

"Bringing more housing into the downtown area, about developing some clusters of businesses that would cater to both visitors and to locals and to making the downtown more accessible," said Kennedy Smith, with the National Main Street Center. "Opening it up a bit and making it more visible to people from the outside so they can find it and get around."

Visitors say Biloxi already has a strong foundation to build upon. One idea for the Vieux Marche is the return of two lane traffic to Howard Avenue.

"Opening that back up and having parking again on the streets is going to gain greater visibility for the businesses that are there," said visiting planner, Kathy La Plante.

Mayor Andrew "FoFo" Gilich says he'd like to see a return to the Old Biloxi look; beautiful brickwork and attractive facades.

"I hope you've seen what we think about our community, and how we value what we have and we want to do everything to ensure another 300 or so years of specialness," said Mayor Gilich, at an afternoon news conference.

The planners will return in the next 18 months with a report outlining their specific recommendations for downtown and how to achieve them.

"Biloxi is in an exciting place right now. There's so much future development that's on the books and in the downtown area. So that's really going to help turn things around for downtown," said Biloxi Main Street director, Kay Miller.

The Main Street program in Biloxi has been around since 1990.

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