Meetings Begin On Revitalizing Downtown Gulfport - - The News for South Mississippi

Meetings Begin On Revitalizing Downtown Gulfport

Even before Katrina, city leaders worked hard to revitalize the downtown area of Gulfport. By the end of the week, the city of Gulfport is set to have a written plan to revitalize downtown. The plan will be drawn up by a team of consultants who are in Gulfport this week.

Revitalizing downtown Gulfport has been a bit of a challenge, to say the least. Monday night a team of consultants who plan to draw up a master plan for the area asked local merchants how business is going since the storm. Responses varied.

"My drug store is not doing as well because of a lot of my clientele was beachfront, Second Street, the west side of Gulfport, South of the railroad. They've had to move elsewhere, so they're slowly coming back, but in that respect I'm way down, so I have my ups and my downs," said Poem Love of Triple H Drug Co.

Ernest Ulrich owns Port City Café.  

"Our count is actually higher this October versus last October, and it's just, you know, south of the railroad tracks there's not a lot of restaurants. They used to have Ruby Tuesdays and everything on 90, now there's pretty much Vrazel's so people South of the railroad tracks are basically coming downtown," Ulrich said. 

Rick Camarena owns the old Hewes building. He and others expressed concerns about public safety in the area.

"We've talked about that, securing the buildings, so it's not squatters or anything like that, but more importantly, it's that we want all our tenants and our employees to be safe," Camarena said.

Concerns were also raised about the number of buildings that still remain vacant in the area. Many for sale and rent signs still hang in storefront windows. Some business leaders at the meeting say they believe real estate prices in the area are too high, especially now that casinos can move inland.

Two more meetings will be held this week at City Hall. One begins Tuesday at 8 a.m. Another meeting will be held Friday at noon.

By Toni Miles

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