Golden Nugget Eyes Point Cadet Biloxi - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

11/22/05

Golden Nugget Eyes Point Cadet Biloxi

The owners of Golden Nugget envision a unique destination resort at Biloxi's Point Cadet.

They're calling the development "Biloxi Boardwalk." The $500 million project would include a theme park, multiple restaurants, a casino-hotel and new marina.

Landry's Restaurants is the company that recently purchased Golden Nugget. A company vice president says the plan for Biloxi is both desirable and doable. But while the drawings may look good, much decision making remains.

Valuable acres at Biloxi's Point Cadet won't likely stay vacant for long. The Golden Nugget owners unveiled big plans for the space.

"It's going to be a family destination location. We think we can bring people here just for those destination aspects of it, not necessarily for the casino gaming," said Jeff Cantwell, the senior vice president of development for Landry's Restaurants Inc.

Plans include an amusement park with a Ferris wheel, tour train and thrill rides, all connected by a boardwalk. A 600 room hotel and Golden Nugget casino are also a part of the mix.

"We feel really excited about this. We really think it's a great location. It's a beacon out on the point. We like the proximity to the other casinos," Cantwell told the Biloxi City Council Tuesday.

"The casino is there, but it's like secondary compared to everything else. The theme park, the restaurants. So, you go down and eat while the kids play and you can still go to the casino. The concept is great," said Ward One councilman, George Lawrence.

Developers say it will give visitors more reasons to stay longer in Biloxi.

"We think we can take the tourism days and increase the tourism days that you currently have, possibly to another half day or another full day," Cantwell told the council.

Although the project received a warm reception at City Hall, the plans are far from finalized. One important factor is the Isle of Capri, which still holds a right of first refusal option on the city owned land. And the Isle is still very interested in that property for its own future development.

"We think it's a good piece of property. We are definitely interested in it. We have the resources to purchase that piece of property if we so choose. And we're going to look at all our options. This is the first time we've seen Golden Nugget's proposal. So, we're going to study it," said Bill Kilduff, an executive with the Isle of Capri.

The Tuesday meeting was "information only," so the Biloxi Council took no action.

Landry's Restaurants has developed more than 300 properties, including its signature waterfront project, "Kemah Boardwalk " near Houston. That complex attracted two million visitors last year.

By Steve Phillips

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