A long and narrow piece of land right next to Edgewater Village is where developer Mike Boudreaux thinks Biloxi's next high rise condominium should be built. "When you look at the location," he said, "it's primo to this type of opportunity."
Boudreaux has plans to build the Tower at Edgewater between Highway 90 and Switzer Road. His project includes 160 townhomes, and 340 condominiums in a 33 story tower. The tower would be 373 feet high, nearly 200 feet taller than city ordinances allow. "The higher up you go, the less expensive it is," Boudreaux said.
However General Clark Griffith says a project like the Tower at Edgewater is a big mistake. "Condos and condotels are risks," the former Keesler commander said.
Griffith chaired Biloxi's Reviving the Renaissance committee. He can't see how this condo tower conforms to what Biloxians want their city to look like. "The bottom line with this one is it's just way too high," he said.
Just before the Biloxi City Council considered the height variance request, 16 people shared their thoughts. Half opposed the 373 foot tower. Half supported it. Robert Barq talked in favor of the project. "If we don't get this thing built, we're sending the wrong message to investors about the Mississippi Gulf Coast," he told councilmen.
Biloxi has approved variance requests like this in the past. Before the hurricane, it told Broadwater owners it could put a 400 foot condominium at the tip of their marina. However, John Fitzhugh told the council decisions like that shouldn't be repeated. "I would like to say just because you've made those exceptions in the past, you shouldn't do it again in this particular case at this location," he said.
Fitzhugh's opinion got a boost from Biloxian Scott Delano. "There's no justifiable need for such an egregious disregard for the Biloxi land development ordinance," he said.
Biloxi's planning commission already gave its consent to the height variance request. However, the city council decided it needed more time before it voted on a request that would completely change the look of this west Biloxi property. Boudreaux said the delay was troublesome. But he would keep lobbying councilmen to get their support. "If we don't make those modifications to any type of development coming in here, you won't have any developments," he said.
The Tower at Edgewater is a nearly $400 million proposal that promises a higher level of beachfront living. Boudreaux called it one of the "new icons that are driving our economy" in this post-Katrina world.