Beachfront Development On Biloxi's Front Burner

On Biloxi's beachfront, the city's planning commission has okayed seven projects that will be built on the southside of Highway 90. Each one sits on land that was once a vital part of Biloxi's economy. The post Katrina developments are supposed to revitalize the three sections of Biloxi's waterfront where building is legal.

For example, there's condominium construction on Biloxi's strip. What's going up is building number one of South Beach's multi-phase, multi-million dollar project. Biloxi Community Development Director Jerry Creel expects that development will clean up hurricane damaged properties along Biloxi's beachfront.

"I think it's exciting," Creel said.

His department works with groups like the builders of South Beach to make sure they rebuild the beachfront in a way that benefits everybody.

The South Beach project is designed by RW Development, a company that has plans on both sides of Beach Boulevard.

"We're excited about seeing that development unfold," said Creel.

Prior to the storm, a one mile section of Biloxi's beachfront had more than a dozen commercial businesses on it. The Biloxi Strip included the Emerald Beach Motel, Cuco's Restaurant, Hooters Restaurant, a Shell gas station, Taco Bell, KFC, Wendy's a liquor store, a used car lot, an amusement park, a miniature golf course, La Fiesta Brava restaurant, Ruby Tuesday, Sonic, Waffle House, a pizza parlor, Sharkheads and Snapper's Restaurant. South Beach encompasses everything from Taco Bell to Sharkheads.

If other property owners on the west side of the strip can sell their lot, future beachfront projects will extend from Veterans Avenue to Treasure Bay. And that will mean new condos, and new restaurants will dot the Biloxi strip's shoreline.

"I'd say probably in the next five years we're going to see a substantial development happening along there," Creel said.

Biloxi's other notable waterfront project is near the city's eastern tip. Margaritaville construction is in its initial stages. By 2009, the water's edge across from Grand Biloxi will have a dramatically different look. It's the water that Creel says can be so attractive to developers with deep pockets.

"I think they see that as one of our assets. They certainly want to be along the scenic boulevard," he said.

Casino Row is one of three areas where waterfront development is legal. The other locations are from the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor to I-110. And from Rodenburg Avenue over to Treasure Bay. That's the spot where South Beach is going up south of Highway 90.

Besides South Beach, the Biloxi Strip area will have another Waffle House on the beachfront. The plan is to rebuild it in the same location it operated prior to the storm.

Snapper's Restaurant will also return to the shoreline. It has a permit to go back to its Rodenburg Avenue home.

Two condos have the Biloxi Planning Commission's initial approvals. A second Sea Breeze is supposed to be built on the waterfront. And a Bienville Condominium will go up next door.

Besides Margaritaville, the only casino with permits to build on the Mississippi Sound is the Isle of Capri. It amended its master plan to build an expansion at its Point Cadet property.