Restoration of Saenger Theatre held up due to delays, city ready to move forward

Restoration of Saenger Theatre held up due to delays, city ready to move forward

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The revitalization of downtown Biloxi is bringing new life to the heart of the city, but delays on the Saenger Theatre have slowed down that progress until now.

"The project on the Saenger Theatre is moving forward," said Cecilia Dobbs-Walton with the city of Biloxi.

The project was faced with a number of pre-construction issues.

“One of the main reasons is because this is an old historic building, and a lot of the information about the building was not documented,” said Dobbs-Walton. “Even including what the structure is made of.”

The first phase of the project is to restore the outside of the building, which is proving harder than anticipated.

“They actually had to investigate to see what was behind the brick, and they found out that it is a steel and concrete framed building,” she said. “The architects and the city, they had to go to the Mississippi Department of History and Archives to find out what material could be used to replace what has been needed.”

During the investigation, the city found a number of issues with the structure.

“There are parts where mortar is missing,” Dobbs-Walton said. “There are parts where brick is missing and has to be replaced. So, they had to find out what material needed to be replaced, what material could be used to replace that part.”

Another issue was funding for the project.

“The city originally thought that this project was going to be classified under a HUD grant, and it was not,” she said. “Because of that, it delayed the process a little bit longer.”

Officials were able to secure $2 million to fund the first part of the project. With the initial investigation now complete, the city is nearly ready to put phase one out for bids in an attempt to keep with the original two year timeline.

“The city has been in good communications with the Gulf Coast Symphony, who has used this building numerous times,” Dobbs-Walton said. “They have talked to them with hopes of having them back in the Saenger Theatre around 2020.”

The project is expected to be put out for bids in March with work beginning by the summer.

Copyright 2019 WLOX. All rights reserved.