The Mississippi Development Authority has looked at more than $30,000 in proposals from the city of Gulfport and the city's Main Street Association to revitalize the downtown area and has asked the city to submit a formal application for more than $12 million to help rebuild the area.
On Friday, leaders of Gulfport's Main Street Association shared some good news with downtown business owners and shareholders.
"And in the first round, the MDA has invited the city of Gulfport, and the Main Street Association to make formal application for $12 million, which would be divided between two principal projects. One would be historic buildings, and that would be the facade changes for our historic buildings in downtown Gulfport. And the second part would be to make available to the developers and the owners of these historic buildings to help them face the extra costs that are always involved in rehabbing a downtown historic building," says John Harral, a volunteer for the Gulfport Main Street Association.
This is the first round of grant money that will be released through the Community Development Block Grant. Four-point-five million dollars is slated for building improvement grants, money to help out with dress up storefronts and rehabbing historic buildings. Another $7.5 million is set to be used for streetscape improvements involving money for sidewalk, street light and landscape improvements.
Ernest Ulrich owns the Port City café in Downtown Gulfport.
Ulrich says, "With our soon to be expansion, moving into a new building, all that will be a great benefit for us as a business, coming up on line."
Ulrich and others believe this grant money is just what the city needs to finally make the dream of revitalizing the area become a reality.
The city has until March 2 to submit the grant application. Money from the grant could reach the city in as soon as three months.