PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Hopes are running high in Pascagoula that the city's waterfront will soon have a new look. A development group has proposed building a multi-million dollar mixed use project, which would include courtyard homes and commercial space. It would be located on property that was groomed for such a venture several years ago. This project is further along than anything else brought up in the past.
The Pascagoula waterfront is beautiful, with landscaping, a parking garage, and a one of a kind working waterfront. The only thing missing is people. This proposed project will change that with 14 single family courtyard homes, as well as space for businesses.
City leaders say the climate has changed for developers, making it more conducive to build. Donovan Scruggs is the city planner.
"Most building departments are seeing a significant level of growth in their activities. So, I think it's Pascagoula's turn to get a piece of that pie," Scruggs said.
It's not a done deal, but it's a move in the right direction, according to city manager Joe Huffman.
"This is actually the first step. We've got a long way to go, but to see the plan come forth with a recommendation for development of the riverfront is critical."
Susan Richards, enjoying a bike ride on the pedestrian pathway, agrees.
"I think it will be a great help, a great boost. Get more people coming to Pascagoula, learning what Pascagoula has to offer, and I'm all for it," Richards said.
Downtown businesses are optimistic about the project and what it could mean. One of them is business owner Shannon van Duijvendijk.
"It's going to mean, of course, a lot more business for everybody. It's also going to make the area safer, because we'll have people living down here and working down here, so it's a great idea," said van Duijvendijk.
With credit to the great baseball movie "Field of Dreams," city officials in Pascagoula are feeling exactly that. If you build this, they will come, according to Scruggs.
"Hopefully this, coupled with the commercial space that's being proposed, will have more people that need to go have dinner or have lunch. Folks who may be around on Saturdays and Sundays in the downtown area," said Scruggs.
Those folks could visit new business incubator Anchor Square, where Kenyetta Kinnard owns a smoothie business.
"More business and more people. I think town homes and more commercial business coming here will bring more people to Anchor Square, because not too many people know about Anchor Square," said Kinnard.
If the project is built, that will change.
The development team, OneRiverfront LLC, is asking for a few variances to move the project forward, including the number of homes that can be built under city code in the downtown space. The Pascagoula City Council will consider the requests at Tuesday night's meeting. City officials say they expect the variances to be granted with little debate.