GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Ground work on one of the most anticipated projects on the coast is moving right along. The future site of the Mississippi Aquarium in Gulfport is undergoing dirt and drainage work.
There's another project in the works that ties right in to the needs of the big attraction. While technically not a part of the incoming aquarium's property, plans have the old library in Gulfport coming back to life to play a big role in the operations of the attraction.
"We're restoring the library, maintaining the architectural integrity of the building, and re-purposing it to a highly functional, brand new, intermodal center," said Coast Transit Authority Executive Director Kevin Coggin.
Coggin just signed a 40-year lease with the city for the $1.6 million property. Once renovated, Coggin said the bottom floor will be dedicated to CTA business, including a hub for transportation and possibly a food court.
The top 14,000 square feet will be rented out to the aquarium for administrative offices and classrooms. According to Coggin, the only thing standing in the way of construction is an approval by archives and history, which he says is almost there.
"The community will see actual renovation take place on this library this summer," Coggin said.
He hopes to be up and running in the location when the aquarium opens. Then, future plans include a public tram way across Hwy. 90.
"We're going to operate a public tram across to bring people back and forth with a route. You'll be able to bike across and walk across, and there's a lot of good elements to that, too. One of them is safety," said Coggin.
So far, Coggin said work to bring the $8.9 million library renovation to light has been making big strides, and he's looking forward to being a part of the economic boom expected in the city once the attraction opens.
The Gulfport City Council is considering an agreement Tuesday to fund part of $633,000 in improvements near the future CTA center.