RW Development Ready To Pitch A Biloxi Casino

The executives at RW Development say a casino proposal they'll present to Biloxi's Planning Commission on Thursday is nothing like the contentious Tivoli issue.

RW's plan is to build a casino resort at Veterans Avenue and Highway 90. The southern tip of that project would be up against the public sand beach. However, the company claims that what makes this different is the commercial land it owns south of the highway. Because that land is at the mean high tide, RW believes its in a legal casino zone.

The Gold Coast Resort would be the latest investment made by RW Development in the Biloxi strip. It's South Beach condominium is out of the ground. And a Veterans Place development with apartments and shops could be built north of the tracks in three months. It turns out, those projects could be considered RW Development's appetizer.

"We have saved the best for last," executive vice president Granville Smith told the WLOX Editorial Board.

Smith's casino resort concept would be built at the foot of Veterans Avenue and Highway 90.

"What we think is the gaming component will become the economic engine that will allow us to finance and develop a project of this scale," the son-in-law of former New Orleans Hornets owner Ray Wooldridge said.

But to build a casino on the old Biloxi strip, RW Development needs a zoning change. The company contends that since this area had commercial businesses south of Highway 90 before Katrina, and because this area was once a waterfront zone, the Gold Coast casino should be approved.

Mike Cavanaugh is RW Development's attorney.

"This is not a thought. This is not a maybe, sort of. This is a real deal, real developer, real money, real opportunity," Cavanaugh said.

Years before Wooldridge invested in Biloxi properties, he reached out to south Mississippi business owners to support a much different venture. Wooldridge was part of the ownership group that brought the Hornets basketball team to New Orleans. And he wanted south Mississippians to buy some season tickets. Now, Wooldridge and his team are trying to convince many of those same people that bringing a casino to Biloxi's strip is a similar slam dunk decision.

"This development as we've planned it is a no brainer," said Smith.

The Biloxi Planning Commission will hear RW's zoning change request, and its Gold Coast casino presentation on Thursday.

One of the graphics that will be shown at the meeting focuses on the tax revenue RW Development projects could generate for Biloxi. The combination of the South Beach condominium, a hotel across the street, the Veterans Place project with apartments and shops on the north end of Veterans, and the Gold Coast casino, the projection is that Biloxi and its schools could get more than $24 million a year in taxes.