More than two years after the storm, J.J. Pierotich, the owner of Sharkheads in Biloxi, has a plan to build back. The souvenir shop will be about the same size with three floors for retail, warehouse space, offices and a restaurant. Pierotich says businesses that cater to families, like his, are in dire demand on the coast.
"We need anything for people who have children, or just something to do besides spending all day in the casinos."
Don Parker, the designer for the project, presented the design plans to the Biloxi Planning Commission and asked for variances to help Sharkheads rebuild. The commission grants variances, in part, if it sees a business has experienced hardships in the rebuilding process. Parker says Sharkheads has dealt with many hardships, like designing around a new service road that will run parallel to Highway 90 from Rodenberg Avenue to the Treasure Bay Casino area.
"The service drive they're putting on Highway 90, which is taking all the parking in front of our stores."
Because it's in a flood zone, Sharkheads must also build to FEMA's new elevation requirements. Parker says the project will be much more expensive because Sharkheads will now be more than 20 feet above sea level. But, in the end, both the owner and designer say the cost is worth it.
"We went higher. We went stronger," says Parker.
"We're going to be high enough and tall enough to where we'll be able to have affordable insurance, and if we do have a storm again, maybe I can bounce back quicker," says Pierotich
The Biloxi Planning Commission did approve the variances for Sharkhead's design plan.