GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Bids will go out in the next 30 days for a $10 million USM Marine Research Center. That educational facility will be built near a busy intersection that serves as the "front door" for the Port of Gulfport.
The view of the southeast corner of 30th Ave. and Hwy. 90 in Gulfport will soon look much different. That's where USM is about to build a state of the art Marine Research Center.
"University of Southern Mississippi, their school of oceanographic studies and technology. That is a new school. It's a consolidation and amalgamation of various programs within the USM curriculum," said Port of Gulfport Executive Director Jonathan Daniels.
Architect Mark Lishen gave port commissioners their first look at the renderings Thursday.
"The right of way of Hwy. 90 is alone here. So, we're squeezed in this way to get the parking and the building that we need. We had to go this way a little bit to fit all the functions in the building," Lishen said while pointing to the drawings.
One key consideration, given the very visible location, is landscaping.
"That's our front door there. Right by the casinos. Everybody that comes from the west, that's the first thing they see. You can't put too much effort in the landscaping, in the presentation, and the way it looks there," said port Commissioner Jim Simpson.
"Lighting the palm trees up, you've seen that look. At night, all this will all glow and be a really, really attractive facility," Lishen explained.
Along with the research center, there may be another marine resources project nearby. WLOX News Now has learned the DMR is in discussion with the Port of Gulfport about a spot in the small craft area for its oyster aquaculture program.
With the USM research vessel Point Sur home ported in Gulfport, building the research center is the next step.
"Allows for the port to serve as the epicenter, along with the city, of oceanographic research in the Gulf of Mexico," said Daniels.
The marine research center will include both labs and classroom space, along with a storage building.