GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - People have been waiting patiently for a concrete announcement regarding plans to restore the historic Markham Building in downtown Gulfport. The dilapidated structure, which was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, was purchased by developer Robert Lubin.
David Parker with the city of Gulfport says Lubin has signed a franchise agreement with Hyatt Place, a well-known hotel company.
"We're extremely excited Gulfport is going to have this opportunity. We're excited the investment is being made and we're excited it's going to be such a great name brand," Parker said.
The plan is to create a 123 room hotel. Lubin has set an early 2018 time frame for construction to begin on the $30 million project. There is no doubt that the $93 million Mississippi Aquarium, set to open in 2019, is a big part igniting interest in the Markham hotel plan.
"We're spending all of this capital. We're spending time and resources in redeveloping downtown with the aquarium property and creating a generational tourist attraction and to have this next to it, undergo the same restoration is very important," Parker said.
The partnership between Gulfport and Lubin runs deep. The Virginia attorney and developer has several irons in the fire, including a proposed $150 million casino project near Jones Park and the Port of Gulfport.
Then there's Centennial Plaza. Lubin is the third developer to take on this project and the city says the deal here with a Holiday Inn Resort is still in play.
The financial package to restore the Markham will involve historic tax credits along with an array of other state and federal programs.
Lubin worked with Hyatt Place in a restoration project on a historic building in St. Paul, Minnesota.