Point Cadet Improvements Being Negotiated

On January 5, 2000, the Isle of Capri scrapped a $65 million expansion project. Now the company says it's once again ready to build a four level garage, and eventually a 400 room hotel. But only if it's given the proper permits.

That's what Secretary of State Eric Clark is trying to negotiate. In recent months, he's brought together representatives from his office, the IHL, the city of Biloxi and the Isle of Capri. The government agencies each control a piece of Point Cadet property. So they all must sign off on the Isle's expansion plans.

According to a spokesman with the Secretary of State, the new deal to okay the Isle's parking garage proposal isn't finalized. But they are making progress.

The agreement would impact more than just the Isle of Capri. More than two years ago, a study was done for the University of Southern Mississippi. It recommended that the J.L. Scott Marine Education center refurbish its aquarium. That it open an IMAX style theater. And that it add other amenities around its Point Cadet property.

But those changes were also put on hold, because of the lingering problems surrounding the Point Cadet leases.

The lease problems lingered for so long, bed and breakfast owner Jennifer Diaz said they spoiled her group's development dreams for the entire East Biloxi area.

"It's very difficult sometimes to work with state and city agencies," Diaz said. "There are lengthy time delays. Much of the private sector doesn't work like that. So we've had a few setbacks."

Diaz's group still wants to create a village of shops and restaurants similar to what it drew up in early 2000. But she said the new plan will probably avoid the Point Cadet area.

On Tuesday, the Biloxi Port Commission approved the Isle of Capri's 1,000 space parking garage design. An Isle spokesman said once the garage is built, plans for a second hotel will be put together.

But remember, until the Secretary of State negotiates a new lease agreement, nothing can be built at Point Cadet.  The Secretary of State's spokesman said the new lease could be finalized in a matter of weeks.