GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - A new developer promises to help expedite progress at Gulfport's Centennial Plaza. WLOX News has learned Barrington Development and Robert Lubin have reached an agreement to become joint partners in that project.
Barrington spokesman Cono Caranna says the first priority is to build the Holiday Inn Resort that's been talked about for years, but never started. Caranna confirmed Barrington and Lubin signed the new joint partnership agreement on Tuesday.
The hotel they'll build will be on the west side of the Highway 90 property. The plan is to transform two buildings that face each other into the new resort.
Caranna says initial work on those buildings has already started. He expects the Holiday Inn Resort at Gulfport's Centennial Plaza to open "within a year."
Barrington has a proven track record on the coast. In recent years, it's renovated and opened the White House Hotel. It restored a hurricane battered casino property near Point Cadet and turned it into the Margaritaville Resort. And it's currently transforming the vacant Santa Maria senior center tower into a downtown Biloxi hotel.
When Hurricane Katrina tore through the coast, it demolished much of what was the Veterans Hospital property along Highway 90. Gulfport saved 10 buildings on the 48-acre property, vowing to invest millions of dollars into the site and create a mixed-use development.
The idea was to create a family-oriented community to include a town square, resort hotel, restaurants, events space, office space, retail space, residential housing, and a festival marketplace with a wide variety of entertainment.
Gulfport had deals with a couple of different investors. Each vowed to build a hotel on the grounds. But, while a sign touted that hotel, construction never materialized. In 2017, the city's Gulfport Redevelopment Commission tapped Robert Lubin to find backers for Centennial Plaza. That deal is what led to Lubin's new arrangement with Barrington Development.