Gulfport Approves Duany's Design Plans - - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport Approves Duany's Design Plans

GULFPORT (WLOX) -- The city of Gulfport is ready to move forward with its major redevelopment plans. Tuesday, council members voted to accept the master plans of designer Andres Duany.

A few months ago, Duany and his design team came to Gulfport to construct plans for the city. During the ten day workshop, residents were allowed to give their input on what they thought would and would not work for the city. Now, after months of ideas and revisions, the city has its master plan. 

"We want to be really great so we bring somebody who's great," said Mayor Brent Warr.

Duany and his team created plans for the Small Craft Harbor, the VA property, the Ken Combs Pier, the Sportsplex and the downtown area. However, not all of his ideas were accepted.

"There are some things that he came up with that we don't agree with, but he least exposed us to these types of ideas," the mayor said.

Some of Duany's original plans included a stadium in Jones Park. Instead, the city may choose to move the current ballfield from the east side of the park to the west side.

Another design idea that didn't make the final plan: Adding a pool near the downtown area.

"It was a concern, okay who's going to run it? Who's going to own it and who's going to control? There are probably other places in the city that are better for a pool other than a sand beach," the mayor said.

He believes the city should look for a central location to add a pool.

Once the VA property is conveyed, it will also get a major overhaul. Plans include more greenspace, retail shops, and even a conference center. In the meantime, the Veterans Administration is continuing its removal of lead and asbestos from the property.

The mayor says he will continue to work with Duany and his design team on ideas for VA residential property north of the railroad tracks. The same is true for the Sportsplex.

"We're going to ask him to go back and take some of the density and some of the residential product out of that and make it more sports related retail," said Mayor Warr.

One of the most anticipated projects is the Small Craft Harbor. It's an area city leaders hope will become one of Gulfport's biggest tourist attractions.

There are plans to add more boat slips, more greenspace and more retail shops. The entire area would fit in with Duany's ideas of a livable walkable community.

The final plans also include a performing arts center on eight acres of land in the heart of downtown.

The council also voted to create a development committee, which will be responsible for proposals and negotiations with developers about the design plans.

The mayor says he's hoping the committee will be formed within the next 30 days.

by Elise Roberts

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