The man building the Ocean Club condominium on Highway 90 sees nothing wrong with a casino linked to his condo towers. Drake Leddy met with Brad Kessie Friday afternoon and responded to a story Brad aired Monday. That story reported that Ocean Club was in the process of gaining approval for its own onsite casino, even though the condo site is not zoned for casinos.
Despite the zoning discrepancy, Leddy said any Biloxi property owner within 800 feet of the mean high tide would be prudent to explore potential casino options.
The biggest problem he had was that his marketing firm released information that wasn't supposed to be public knowledge yet.
"I wish that sentence hadn't been in there because it was premature," he said.
Premature, maybe. But Leddy also confirmed it was correct.
"I believe that having a casino on our site will add value to my customers' property," he said.
In fact, he asked the 92 people who bought units in the Ocean Club condo for permission to consider the casino idea before he made his plans public.
Leddy spent $50 million to design and build Ocean Club condo tower number one. After Katrina, when the legislature allowed casinos to move 800 feet inland, the Texas developer toyed with ways to redo his project, and capitalize on the new law.
"I'll tell you what my thought is, and it's only my thought as someone doing business here, is that you have a district here already here on the west Biloxi beach with two pre-existing casino locations. We come in between those two," he said. "So if in fact there were a casino license granted for this site at some point in the future, it would again be consistent with the district."
However, Leddy knows that getting approval to add a casino to his condo project won't be easy.
"When it comes right down to it, it's a policy question," the condo developer said. "And it's something that the political people of Biloxi are going to have to figure out."
As WLOX News reported on Monday, the area between Treasure Bay and the old Broadwater isn't zoned for casinos. And the city hasn't been approached by Ocean Club for a zoning change. Leddy doesn't control the waterfront across the street either. Administrators at the Mississippi Gaming Commission office in Jackson say that's a must for any coast casino developer.
The Ocean Club owner believes his casino idea has a 12 to 18 month window of opportunity. If he can't work out the regulatory issues by then, he says he'll simply create a great condo site that adds to Biloxi's growing skyline.
"There will be a time that we probably want to bring it up to talk. We aren't fully complete with all of the work that we need to do to have a nice little bow wrapped around a proposal," Leddy said.