New developer taking over Centennial Plaza construction

Published: Jul. 5, 2017 at 6:16 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 5, 2017 at 9:45 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - During Mississippi's Bicentennial Celebration, Centennial Plaza was rocking with excitement. But on most days it sits quiet with no activity, despite the promise of a resort coming soon.

However, the Gulfport Redevelopment Commission believes something is on the horizon. Attorney for the Commission Steve Hendrix says a change of ownership agreement is in place between the previous developers - the Juneau family - and Robert Lubin.

"Robert Lubin's group was bringing all the equity and all the cash to the transaction," Hendrix said.

The Virginia based attorney is adding Centennial Plaza to his list of Gulfport projects, which include the resurrection of the Markham Building and a possible casino. Mayor Billy Hewes says work still needs to be done to finalize the deal, but thinks Lubin is a key figure in helping Gulfport move forward.

"Lubin really came here and is one of those folks that moved here and really had no idea how great it was, how nice it was, the climate, the people, the opportunity," Hewes said. "He's brought some financing to the table and I think he's going to be key to getting it off the ground."

Lubin will front the construction costs for Centennial Plaza and the other projects in part by using international investors.

"Even though it's been a long time coming and it has now we have everything lined up from the financing, to the tax credit incentives, through the other types of incentives to make that deal happen," Hendrix said.

Hendrix expects progress to be seen on all of Lubin's Gulfport projects soon.

"Those I think will also come to fruition in the near term - near term being the next few months - and then you're going to see a lot of synergy and advantages for Robert Lubin and his group as they move forward on all the developments," Hendrix said.

A target start date for construction at Centennial Plaza is set for October 31.

"That's as firm as you can be with development and when you're pulling together as many new market tax credits, historic tax credits and leverage lenders into the process. Nothing is absolutely firm, but that is the target date we've all agreed to and all those people are lined up and committed to that date," said Hendrix.

The total price tag for the multi-phase Centennial Plaza is estimated at $30 million dollars. The city council still needs to sign off on the change of ownership agreement to make it official.

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