GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Nearly 11 years after Katrina, cities on the Coast are getting serious about luring homeowners and businesses back to the beachfront.
Gulfport is offering a tax incentive program to entice people to build on Hwy. 90. The city says they are committed to fanning the flames of economic activity.
A flurry of building is taking place on valuable beach front properties, and a block away from Hwy. 90 in the highly desirable Second St. area.
"Between Hwy. 90 and Second St., 11 homes are going up right now. All of this has happened in the last three or four months. It is exciting," said Gulfport Chief Administrative Officer John Kelly.
Gulfport has introduced a tax abatement program to encourage residential and commercial growth. New construction, renovation or improvement will qualify for a waiver of property taxes with the exception of school taxes.
A minimum of $400,000 must be spent on Hwy. 90, and $100,000 on Second St. The idea is to help people defray costs.
"Insurance rates are not quite where they need to be, so you have to give incentives. Construction costs are more expensive on the beach than they are north of the interstate," Kelly said.
Several restaurants have gone up on Hwy. 90, including Shaggy's and Ajax; the latter set to start business in sometime in June.
On Tegarden Rd., Warr Properties has big plans for a 5 acre piece of property.
The vision includes retail, residential and possibly a hotel. Gulfport - like all cities - knows it has to fortify its tax base and secure the operating budget.
"About 70 percent of the budget comes from sales tax and ad valorem tax. If you take those two things away, we're dead in the water. We can not run the city," according to Kelly.
In 2015 Gulfport established the tax abatement south of the CSX tracks from city line to city line.