BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A casino project in East Biloxi may be getting a "jump start" with a new investment partner. Plans call for a $265 million project at "The Point" in Biloxi.
Developer Chris Ferrara may have found the partner he's needed to move forward with his project. The Mashantucket Pequot tribal nation, which owns and operates the massive Foxwoods Casino Resort in Connecticut, has signed on as a partner in this long-awaited East Biloxi development.
The former Heinz pet food plant has sat vacant for decades in East Biloxi. The project plans would transform the eyesore into a world class casino, with 50,000 square feet of gaming space, 70,000 square feet of convention space, plus a 500 room hotel.
Before pursing the casino plans, Ferrara first developed the adjacent Biloxi Boardwalk marina and the seafood restaurant that's now the Biloxi Lugger.
The restaurant manager is excited about the future possibilities with a world class casino resort next door.
"That's going to bring in a ton of folks. And we're going to be prepared for it. The largest convention center on the gulf coast will be bringing in people from all over the world. They'll be able to come right here and experience what true Biloxi cuisine is all about," said manager, Lewis Allen.
Dennis Meins was among the first to dock his boat at the Biloxi Boardwalk Marina. He too says "The Point" is poised for this type of development and attention.
"The whole Point used to be a booming area to begin with, and now it's been kind of quiet since the storm. But I'm ready for it to come back for sure," said Meins.
This year's shrimp king, Frank Parker, is also excited about the opportunity.
"Anytime we can get anything new down here to help promote the Point, maybe help promote some American seafood, and provide jobs and stuff like this, to boost our economy, it's an excellent opportunity," said Parker.
The City of Biloxi sees an opportunity to grow the gaming market.
"This development has an opportunity to strengthen the Biloxi gaming market by adding a dynamic new resort that will help attract new visitors to the area," said Mayor Andrew 'FoFo' Gilich. "I'm eager to see their final design plans they are considering to help grow the market."
Gilich added that the Biloxi Pointe development will enable the 5th Street extension to U.S. 90 and complete the "casino loop" to Back Bay that has been envisioned for years.
"This investment confirms what we have always felt," added Gilich. "That Biloxi is the 'right spot'."
"Bring new people in. I think with all the convention space they have proposed, that will help an awful lot. And hopefully it will expand our market here on the Mississippi gulf coast," said chief administrative officer, David Nichols.
The project will take two-years plus to build. It's scheduled to open in the Spring of 2019.