Gulfport leaders expect a new multi-million dollar housing complex to add a substantial amount of money into city coffers. Mayor Ken Combs and council member Chuck Testin joined other coast leaders at a ribbon cutting at "The Reserve at Three Rivers" apartments on Tuesday in Gulfport. Owners say they've filled about half of the 256 units since leasing began in April. They also say that they have so much faith in the coast apartment market that they've invested 14 million dollars in it.
"This coast market has been phenomenal since the casinos got here and we all came down and built," said owner Jim Carney. "We overbuilt it a couple of years ago and it's beginning to catch back up now. We're all doing a little bit better and we're excited about the prospects for the future."
The apartments are in Orange Grove, an area that's been plagued with water and sewer problems. City leaders say taxes from development projects like this one will help solve some of those problems.
Mayor Combs said "That's the reason it's necessary that we correct the needs in our water and sewer arena. Projects like this help us pay the moneys back that we have to borrow to make these corrections and improvements."
For some companies, the construction of new apartments is a business opportunity.
"This is like having 300 homes in one small area. We've got the potential for 300 customers here, which is good for us, and it's good for the community because we pay the franchise fee and the taxes and everything," said Butch Henley of Cable One.
According to a representative from the Mississippi Gulf Coast Apartment Guide, the demand for apartments in our area has picked up after a long slump. Faith Welborne says for the past two months the vacancy rate has been about 12 percent. That is a significant drop from earlier in the year.