Big change could be coming to Vieux Marche in Biloxi

Updated: Apr. 17, 2017 at 7:45 PM CDT
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The Biloxi City Council will consider hiring the South Mississippi Development District to conduct a $50,000 study on downtown restoration. A key component will be a big change at Vieux Marche.

Howard Ave. is one of the primary streets running through downtown Biloxi. Once eastbound traffic gets to Reynoir St., Howard becomes a one-way into Vieux Marche.

The city will decide whether to hire the South Mississippi Planning and Development District to study making Howard a two-way street through the historic area. Some businesses, like After the Proposal Wedding and Events, think the idea would create opportunities.

"We have a booming tourism business here, and many of our patrons our tourists. I think opening up this to a two-way street will allow more people who are not familiar with the area to be able to travel back and forth more easily," said Brandy Ibos.

Biloxi is committed to bringing more people downtown as a means of sparking economic development.

"With additional crowds coming back, we can take advantage of authentic old Biloxi. That's the mayor's vision," according to Gerald Blessey, who serves as attorney for development in Biloxi.

The thinking is two-way traffic could spur interest in Vieux Marche where right now for sale and for lease signs hang on many buildings.

If the city decides to go with two-way traffic on Howard Ave. through the Vieux Marche, it would obviously require widening the road.

There is already nice landscaping, curbing, brickwork, and lamp posts in place that could factor into the decision. The inconvenience produced by road construction would be unappealing to some businesses.

Over at Sand Bar and Grill, the thought is access equals an improved business climate. They point to activity generated by baseball at MGM Park and other events around Biloxi.

"I think it would be a fabulous idea to entertain. With big events like Mardi Gras, spring break, we had the Oyster Fest this weekend, it would be a real convenience to people to be able to go both ways through here," Mathew Freydl said.

The city council is expected to vote on whether to commission the study at Tuesday's meeting.

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