Slabs Dominate Once Thriving Biloxi Strip - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Slabs Dominate Once Thriving Biloxi Strip

Highway 90 traffic passes barren lots that once made up a thriving strip. Visitors who may have enjoyed water front dining in Biloxi, would not recognize the place.

Restaurant signs tower above broken pieces of storm-ravaged businesses.

"We speculate that they are looking for more appropriate locations to rebuild those restaurants back," said Jerry Creel, who works as the city's community development director.

Creel says rebuilding the restaurants along the water front may be cost prohibitive for many. Issues like soaring construction and insurance costs make recovery more difficult.

"Some of the restaurants that were down there prior to the storm, like a Sonic and a Waffle House, find it difficult not only to meet the velocity zone engineer construction requirements, but also to meet the elevation requirements," said Creel.

Mike Fitzpatrick is the city councilman who represents much of the area called "the strip".

"I don't expect to see any of our restaurants to come back down on the south side. I've been looking all over Biloxi, especially on Pass Road for some properties for these people to come back," says Fitzpatrick.

With so many retail signs storm damaged beyond recognition, it's getting tough to recall which businesses once thrived on the slabs along the strip. The primary promise of new development there can be found in the many signs promoting condominium development.

While more condos come out of the ground, Biloxi's mayor remains cautiously optimistic that won't be the only development on the strip.

"I would certainly hope that a lot of those restaurants come back. Condos are nice where they belong, but we need some other amenities besides that," said Mayor A.J. Holloway, "Another thing that's stopping the development there is a lot of restaurants didn't own the land that they were on. They were on leased land."

Waffle House had been moving forward with plans to rebuild its restaurant on the strip. However, that restaurant property has been sold to a condo developer.

By Steve Phillips

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