For years, Slippery Sams has made a big splash with kids and their parents. Now a New Orleans developer thinks the Biloxi property can make a bigger splash if condominiums replace the Highway 90 water slides. Ben Favret thinks "Biloxi can compete successfully with Gulf Shores and Destin in that area."
To build the $95 million Portofino, Ben Favret's company needed a city variance, so the two condominium towers could be 140 feet high.
Because Keesler Air Force Base planes fly near the water park property, a Hurricane Hunter questioned whether new condos would cause problems for training pilots. Robert Lee told the Biloxi City Council, "We would just ask that as Biloxi grows, that you remember that we're a bunch of reservists. We'd prefer not to have things in the way of that airplane, with that 35,000 tons of fuel."
Keesler's commander is General Roosevelt Mercer. He wrote a letter to developers that said the base doesn't object to the project, as long as the maximum height of the structures stays below 160 feet. So the city council approved the condo's height variance.
Charles Harrison represents the area where the condos would be built. The councilman said, "I feel that this does fall under that. And we'll continue to be good neighbors for a long time to come."
Access to Biloxi's strip area was one of the big reasons Ben Favret thought Slippery Sams would make the perfect spot for a condominium complex. He said, "It's uniquely suited and positioned for development. And particularly this type of development. It's a five star development."
Favret expects construction of the Portofino to begin in February. When it does, Biloxi will lose both its water slide, and a beachside amusement park. The rides south of Highway 90 will be replaced by a beach club and a health spa.
A realtor representing Favret said the condominium developer would officially buy the two Biloxi attractions once his company sold 80% of the units in the first condo tower.