BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A developer is working with the City of Biloxi to make the Vieux Marche a popular spot like it once was. With entertainment, shopping, crowds, and all kinds of businesses, Howard Avenue used to be filled with people. Now, empty buildings line the road.
The city and an eager developer are hoping to change that.
“We’ve been in a depressed market downtown for more than ten years,” said city spokesperson Vincent Creel. “We can keep going the way we’re going or Mayor Gilich says, ‘Now we’ve got somebody who’s stepped up. Let’s help make it happen.’”
The City of Biloxi is just about to complete the widening and brick paving project in the area. Now, it’s ready to do even more.
On Tuesday, the city council will vote on a resolution designed to give developer Lee Young tax breaks to help him develop his properties.
“He is going to be asking for a break on his property taxes just for the improvement he makes,” Creel said. “Whatever is being paid right now will continued to be paid."
Creel is excited about Young's plans for several different buildings he has purchased, including the Barq’s and Kress buildings.
“He wants to build 300 housing units in downtown Biloxi,” he said. “We’ve talked about that for years. We’re talking one, two and three-bedrooms. We’re talking a quarter-million square feet of retail, restaurants, boutique shops, etc.,. 20,000 square feet of office.”
As a result, the city expects $54 million to be invested into the area.
“These are things that Gulfport’s talked about, Biloxi’s talked about, everybody’s talked about,” Creel said. “Now, we’ve got somebody stepping up. They’ve already bought the property. They’re already making the investment. They have skin in the game.”
Creel expects that this first big investment, will support those businesses already there and bring in more.
“We’re thinking that he’s going to draw some interest down with people living here, and we think that development’s going to follow the people,” Creel added. “We think that when people see the rooftops and there’s activity down here, more people are going to want to come in.”
The city council will vote on the tax break to assist the developer during the regular council meeting Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.