Gautier Defines Downtown, Gears Up For Grants

Rachel Walden, restaurant manager, already cashes in thanks to her prime location on Highway 90. But with Tuesday's vote, her business is now a part of Gautier's newly designated downtown area. She says she's looking forward to the added benefits.

"It's always nice to be considered in the hub of things," Walden says.

The designation allows city leaders to apply for Community Development Block Grant money for various projects to help make the area more attractive

"We're going to be looking at some beautification projects, the addition of some roadway improvement possibly, as well as sidewalks and bikeways," Gautier Community Services director George Carbo says, right after a unanimous decision by the City Council to accept the proposed area.

Singing River Mall is the center of the proposed downtown. The area would extend from Beasley Road, east to Shamrock Court. It would also run from Old Spanish Trail, north to Dolphin Drive, giving Gautier a designated area that many people already consider to be downtown.

"It's really not all that different than what people think of as downtown. This is where everything is, from city hall on down that way, to the library and that area. All your major businesses are here with the mall you know as the center," Walden says.

While people may already think of this as downtown Gautier, Carbo hopes a subtle improvement, with help from Uncle Sam, will make Gautier's business district look better than ever.

"I'm hoping they'll say, I've been here before, there's been some improvement, and this is a place I definitely want to come back to. They're already telling us that. We just need to give them some extra amenities to make it even more enjoyable," Walden says.

Carbo says that tonight's unanimous approval by the city council is just the first step in the process.  Now they will begin to decide on the specific projects to pursue. He says, at this point, they're not sure how much money the city hopes to receive.