Biloxi Ready To Gamble On Bacaran Bay

As soon as demolition teams finish clearing hurricane debris off some Caillavet Street property, construction crews could begin building Bacaran Bay. Tom Wall can't wait.

"It's something that's really going to be a great thing for Biloxi," the ward five councilman said.

Bacaran Bay is a $500 million endeavor developed by Marlin Torguson, the man who originally created the Casino Magic resorts.

"All the new development I think that's going to happen in Biloxi over the next five to 10 years casino-wise pretty much is going to happen on Back Bay," Torguson said. "So that's why I'm sold on Caillavet Street."

Before Katrina hit, Biloxi started an ambitious Caillavet Street widening project. The new boulevard was supposed to lure developers like Torguson to invest in this section of the city.

Bank president Chevis Swetman told Biloxi council members Bacaran Bay is vital to the area's rebirth.

"We've always said casino development is economic development. It's a job creation industry," said Swetman. "And that's what Biloxi needs is jobs."

Swetman spoke at the city council meeting, right before councilmen voted on Bacaran Bay's project.

They unanimously approved six variances requested by Bacaran Bay, so it could build its casino, its hotel and its condominium tower 31 feet higher than Biloxi ordinances allow.

Bill Stallworth made the motion to approve the variances.

"I think we see that it's an ideal project that's going to bring in a lot of jobs and a lot of revenue into the area," he said.

The revenue won't start rolling into Biloxi until late 2008 -- after the hurricane debris is gone, and Bacaran Bay is built on Caillavet Street.

Bacaran Bay still needs gaming regulators to sign off on its project. That vote may be at the April gaming commission meeting.

It will take more than two years to build Bacaran Bay's Caillavet Street resort.