Wyndham Pitches Hotel Project In Biloxi's Downtown Harbor Area - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Wyndham Pitches Hotel Project In Biloxi's Downtown Harbor Area

BILOXI (WLOX) -- Biloxi may have found the non-gaming anchor that it needs to reinvigorate its waterfront. Wyndham Hotels presented a plan to the Biloxi City Council that would bring the world's largest hotelier to the small craft harbor.

Wyndham Hotels spent about a year looking for a site in Biloxi to build a four star resort. At the same time, Mickey McElroy was looking for a developer to take over a condo project that longer seemed viable. When the developer and the leaseholder met, they realized they had an opportunity to do something special in downtown Biloxi.

McElroy's Seafood Restaurant was always considered a special part of Biloxi's harbor area. But like so many other businesses, it got washed away by Hurricane Katrina.

Now, developers of the Wyndham Harbor Pointe Resort want to turn the McElroy's site into a 400 room hotel on Biloxi's waterfront. Wayne Hengen is McElroy's attorney. "It's bigger and better for everybody in the city of Biloxi, for the whole south Mississippi area for that matter. It's the Wyndham for goodness sakes," he told the Biloxi City Council.

Supporters of the Wyndham project showed council members a rendering of the 24 story resort that could be built in downtown Biloxi. Wyndham's representative at the council's special meeting was Kyle Gagne. "We love the project," Gagne said.

So does Mickey McElroy. The hot dog vendor turned seafood restaurant owner currently controls the lease at the small craft harbor site. "I'm just tickled to death that we got this far with it," he said. "I think it will be an asset to the community. I think Wyndham is first class. I wouldn't have entertained it had it not been a first class operation."

McElroy's original plan was to put a condo tower on the small craft harbor site he leases from Biloxi. But when the condo market weakened, McElroy turned to the Wyndham group. It considered the waterfront area next to Hard Rock Biloxi, and just down the street from Beau Rivage, an A plus location for a hotel.

Hengen sees the upside as well. "Having this available for casinos to spill over on and tourists to come to, it's going to be a win-win for everybody," he said.

Traffic is always a development concern. In this case, Mickey McElroy said traffic was a bonus. "The traffic is going to be phenomenal," he thought. "And right now, you know what we need on the coast, we need traffic."

If it's approved, the hotel would have 400 rooms. And the top couple of floors could be sold as condo units.

Biloxi city council members have asked the mayor to begin negotiations with Wyndham, to see if a lease can be ironed out. If Wyndham signs a lease, attorneys say financing to build the small craft harbor hotel could be secured in six to 12 months.

By Brad Kessie

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