PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - The transformation of the downtown Pascagoula waterfront is about to take shape. Twenty-nine single family housings units, as well as commercial retail space, are one step closer to reality.
The project is called The Courtyards at City Dock, and city officials and business owners are enthusiastic about what lies ahead.
For years, a parking garage was the only thing built on this working riverfront, where boats troll for bait and so do the pelicans. Now, this development will soon join the garage. It comes with a vision for developer Kenneth Jones.
"We really wanted to bring people back to downtown, and we thought that it would be a really good connection to bring New Orleans-style architecture, small homes, that people could build and develop themselves," Jones explained.
For members of the city's redevelopment authority, it's been tough to get to this point. Jim Estabrook sits on the board.
"Insurance makes it difficult. The fact that it's the first major project in a number of years in Pascagoula makes it a little difficult," Estabrook said.
What's not difficult to see is the bright future of the area. Jen Dearman is the economic development director for the city.
"This really has potential to spur future development for ongoing residential movement and having a cluster here of people, which only will attract other businesses," Dearman explained.
One of those businesses is the Nura Juice Bar, where workers are hoping the project spins up new business as they spin up smoothies. Marcel Kinnard is the owner.
"It's going to be good for downtown. I think it's going to boom. It's going to bring more people down here, and it's also going to be beneficial for Pascagoula, because it's going to generate a tax revenue. More people coming in and shopping small," said Kinnard.
With these units being built right here on the waterfront in downtown, obviously, in the event of a future hurricane, they have to be built strong. They have to be built safe, and they have to be built high. They will be, according to Jones.
"The ground floor here is nine feet. We'll be building up to 18 and a half feet, so the units will be raised nine and a half feet above the ground. However, they won't look like it from the front. We're going to be back-filling against a chain wall so it will slope down gradually," said Jones.
What won't be gradual is the economic impact this complex could have on the city. The Courtyards at City Dock represents an investment of about $16 million.
Developers hope to be moving dirt in the next month and say the first units could be under construction by the end of the year. Already, five have been pre-sold with two others pending.