Gulfport Business Owners Speak Out About Screetscape Plans

The revitalization of downtown Gulfport was on the agenda at City Hall Wednesday night. Property owners and residents met with designers to get a preview of what may be the city's new look.

Residents agree that improvements are needed, but there is one issue they can't seem to get past - parking.

People agree that new streetlights, additional landscaping and road improvements are long overdue in the ailing downtown Gulfport district. But they don't want to sacrifice parking spaces for beautification.

"If there is not a parking space here, if there is not adequate parking, they have no desire to come here," says J.R. Moses, whose family owns Moses Men's Wear.

Steve Schukraft is the city planner with HDR Engineering presented several design options for restorations along 25th avenue and 13th street.

"The streetscape is a very fundamental design in not just how Downtown Gulfport looks but how it works," says Schukraft.

He says there must be a balance between the look, the parking and the pedestrian space in order for the city to grow.

Several of the plans include removing a few of the parking spaces in Downtown Gulfport and that didn't sit well with some long time business owners.

"My concern is the loss of parking spaces. To get this beautification at the cost of parking for customers is one that we cannot afford. I think that we must have a blend," says Moses.

While many agree that parking is already a problem for downtown business owners, others say, in the end, it should be the least of their concerns.

The restoration is part of the $7.6 million streetscape improvement plan. Designers say once the plan is approved, it will take about two years to complete.

Also on Wednesday, the state awarded Gulfport a $7,575,000 grant to pay for the project. Gulfport was among 15 South Mississippi communities receiving grants.