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  #21  
Old Posted Jul 6, 2007, 9:19 PM
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Public to have say on Tivoli rezoning

Billion-dollar casino proposed
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com


BILOXI --Sometime in August the Biloxi Planning Commission will hear whether residents think the Tivoli Hotel site north of U.S. 90 should be rezoned as "waterfront" so a billion-dollar casino and hotel can be built there.

The City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to direct the Planning Commission to schedule the hearing. Community Development Director Jerry Creel said it will take at least 30 days to complete the case fact sheet and advertise the hearing.

Councilman George Lawrence, the lone vote against asking for the hearing, wants to keep the beach for public use. He said, "I don't think this city should be all about money."

If the seawall is going to become the line for determining where casinos can be built, Lawrence said, "everything on Biloxi Beach could turn into casinos." He also pointed out that the Mississippi Gaming Commission has been fairly stern about allowing no new casino development across the sand beach.

Councilman Mike Fitzpatrick said that when opportunity knocks, the council should find creative solutions. The developer is reportedly Biloxi Capital LLC and Fitzpatrick stressed this is a billion-dollar project. It will have a casino, hotel rooms, marina, restaurants and shops and will bring millions of dollars to the city, county and state each year, he said.

Fitzpatrick said rezoning the site will give the Veterans of Foreign Wars the financial means to rebuild and the Biloxi Yacht Club the opportunity to get a new marina. The casino developers have the option to relocate their marina in front of the new yacht club location adjacent to the Tivoli site.

Council President Ed Gemmill agreed with Lawrence on some points. "I don't want to see that beach taken away from us," he said, but he favors the hearing, "to look at the possibilities."

Wanting to be clear on the intent of the resolution, Councilman Bill Stallworth said, "This is not a declaration saying we will approve it," but a chance to get information from residents.

"I probably won't vote for the project," said Councilman David Fayard, "but I do want the public input."

When Lawrence argued that the council can get public opinion without tying it to this property, Councilman Tom Wall replied, "This hearing is all about the Tivoli property." It has nothing to do with building on the beach, Wall said. The city wants to develop the property he said has been deteriorating for 40 years, "and looking worse and worse all the time," into something that is going to provide tax revenue.

The meeting room was packed and more citizens spoke for authorizing the hearing than against it. One resident who lives behind Tivoli asked that the boundaries be extended all the way to the railroad tracks. Homeowners in the area have the potential to be bought out. The current proposal sets the boundaries on the south by the mean high-water line (the toe of the seawall), north to Howard Avenue, east to Kuhn Street and west to Holley Street.

After the board voted to approve the public hearing, Gemmill said it will take approval beyond the council's authority before a casino could be built across from the sand beach.

Revenue generated

State $35.6 million
Biloxi $13.8 million
Biloxi schools $7.9 million
County $9.4 million

Repay Coliseum debt Nearly $3 million

Tourism advertising $2.4 million



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Supporters claim

Casino proposal would have:

• $1 billion investment

• 175,000 square feet of gaming space

• 2,500 hotel rooms

• 6,500 parking spaces

• 300-boat marina

• 6,500 parking spaces

• restaurants and retail




YAY
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  #22  
Old Posted Jul 6, 2007, 9:22 PM
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Public to have say on Tivoli rezoning

sorry dp
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  #23  
Old Posted Jul 10, 2007, 3:43 PM
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Biloxi's Gold Rush

350 apartments coming on Veterans Avenue
By PRISCILLA FRULLA
pfrulla@sunherald.com

The north end of Veterans Avenue is getting a $75 million makeover, and that's just the beginning.

RW Development recently began construction on its South Beach Resort on U.S. 90 near Rodenberg and now has City Council approval to begin the next step in its Gold Coast district, a 19-acre mixed-use planned unit development on Veterans Avenue.

About 350 market-rate apartments and 70,000 square feet of retail and office space will be built first on a 6-acre section of the site, said RW Vice President Granville Smith.

"We hope to have the first phase under way before the end of the calendar year," said Smith. "The entire project could be built out within five years."

When complete, the Veterans Avenue development between Pass Road and the railroad tracks may have as many as 1,175 units of market-rate apartment housing along with 110,500 square feet of retail, office and restaurant space and 150 hotel rooms.

Smith said the property south of the tracks on Veterans will be primarily resort oriented. The areas north of the tracks will be primarily residential with supporting businesses such as dry cleaners, banks, coffee shops and cafes.

"We want to have a cohesive flavor," said Smith, who sees a smooth transition between the two areas.

The city plans to widen and improve Veterans Avenue, he said, and the development is designed to encourage pedestrians to use the new sidewalks.

Smith said the retail space will be located on the ground floor facing the street, "creating a continuous promenade." Residential rental units will be above and behind the storefronts.

Smith said the company is developing the residential area on Veterans before the resort area because "there is a tremendous demand for work-force housing."

Construction cost on the 19-acre site is estimated at $75 million. RW plans to invest a total of $800 million in its Biloxi properties in the area the developers have designated the Gold Coast.

Smith expects the Gold Coast developments to have a major impact on Biloxi. He said a positive aspect of the locations is "we are not tearing down homes. We are replacing vacant, blighted lots with quality developments."

RW owns about 50 acres near the beach including 63 percent of the property on Veterans Avenue and property on both sides of U.S. 90 at Veterans and Travia avenues. The first phase of South Beach is being built on the south side of U.S. 90 with an expected completion next summer.

Granville Smith, RW Development vice president


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  #24  
Old Posted Jul 16, 2007, 1:09 PM
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Developers' vote set for Tuesday

Gulfport council left firms hanging
By RYAN LaFONTAINE
rlafontaine@sunherald.com

GULFPORT --Three of the nation's largest developers want to help transform Gulfport from a struggling, storm-pummeled harbor town to a Southeastern jewel.

Their work, an extreme makeover, would be funded mostly through federal grants and hiring them would arguably be the boldest leap forward of any South Mississippi town since Hurricane Katrina.

Maybe it was bad blood between local politicians or simply cautious consideration from city leaders, but whatever the reason, the development firms were left hanging last week without a confirmation vote from the City Council and their futures will remain uncertain at least until Tuesday, when the council is expected to revisit the issue.

A special committee, established to find a reputable developer for the role of citywide design consultant, began sorting through potential development firms in February.

The committee recommended last week the City Council begin negotiations with three megadevelopers, but the council voted to delay a confirmation until Tuesday, giving council members time to review the professional backgrounds of each firm.

Throughout the selection process, committee members were bound by a confidentiality agreement because of fear that leaked information about selections could make for grumpy developers and kill any potential deal.

For weeks, council members tried unsuccessfully to pry bits of information from those on the committee about what was happening during the selection meetings and the process being used to make the determination.

Not even Councilwoman Libby Milner-Roland, who served on the selection committee, was allowed to speak freely to her fellow council members. State Rep. Frances Fredricks, D-Gulfport, who was appointed to serve on the committee by Councilwoman Ella Holmes-Hines, could not report back on what was happening behind closed doors.

It didn't take long for the tight-lipped tactic to frustrate the council and they voiced their chagrin last week when they voted against the recommendation.

"How can the committee be put under a confidentiality agreement and not be allowed to speak freely to the City Council? Why does the administration have so little trust in us?" Councilwoman Barbara Nalley asked.

Nalley said the committee handed three pages to each council member before last week's meeting. Each page contained a brief description of the three developers and their proposals, which she said was hardly enough material to convince her to accept a recommendation.

"That's part of the problem in Gulfport right now. We're the ones making the decision, not the committee. And if we are going to be asked to make a final determination on something, then we have to know what we are voting on and we have to be involved in the process," she said.

The committee urged the council to begin negotiating with New Orleans developer Pres Kabacoff, whose fingerprints are on the Riverwalk and the Warehouse District, to redesign the 92-acre Veterans Affairs property on U.S. 90 as a mixed-use public property, using part of it for a convention and resort complex.

The committee recommended the council negotiate a deal with Memphis developer Henry Turley, whose Harbor Town community closely resembles designs from the 2005 Coast charrettes, to become the city's design consultant and help revamp neighborhoods and develop walkable communities.

In addition, the committee suggested Kentucky developer Bill Butler, whose firm, Corporex, has dozens of Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton hotels on its resumé, be brought in to create a massive development downtown.

"The administration and the committee were asking us to accept these developers when we had no idea what was being talked about in those meetings and how they arrived at their recommendation," Councilman Brian Carriere said. "I've since had time to read through each of the proposals from the developers and I think we're going to see some real action (on Tuesday)."

Carriere said hopes to accept the recommendation and begin negotiating deals with each firm, but during the council's negotiation process, he wants to grill each company about its detailed plans for Gulfport.

"The only thing that's being recommended is that we negotiate contracts with these developers, that's it," he said. "We would need to sit down with them and discuss their plans in detail, especially about the VA property and which buildings would be saved and which ones are too far gone."

Councilman Neil Resh agreed with Nalley and others who said there was hardly enough information available last week to warrant a "yes" vote.

"I still don't have (an information) packet or anything on these builders," he said on Thursday. "And another thing, why are we using out-of-state builders and not local guys?"

Other council members, however, say there are hardly any available local developers with the type of illustrious resumes touted by Kabacoff, Turley and Butler.

The council was invited to a reception in May at the Island View Casino on the night the selections were announced. Resh was one of the few council members to attend and quiz the developers on their plans for the city.

Councilwoman Holmes-Hines said she did not attend the reception for fear of violating the state's open meetings laws.

"We looked at that and considered it as an open, public meeting," she said. "I'm not going to show up and violate the open meetings law."

But the laws on open meetings are murky and weak. One part of the law says any assembly of members of a public body, including an "informal meeting," in which public business is discussed even though no action or votes are taken is consider a public meeting and the public should be legally alerted.

However, luncheons, ribbon cuttings, "chance" meetings or "social gatherings" of members of a public body are not covered.

The committee's recommendation failed last week by a 4-3 vote, with those voting no saying they just needed more time to review the proposals and history of each developer.

Mayor Brent Warr's administration, the committee and the development firms are hoping Tuesday yields a different result. They need one more vote to pass the recommendation.

Meet the big three

A look at the committee's recommended developers:

Historic Restoration Inc.

Pres Kabacoff, a prominent New Orleans developer known for converting old warehouses and factories into hipster domiciles, is the chief executive officer and co-chairman of the board of HRI Properties, a full-service real estate company and national leader in the adaptive reuse of historic structures. He co-founded the company in 1982, with a mission of reviving cities by creating diverse, vibrant communities.

The firm has completed 38 large-scale projects through public-private partnerships that includes 3,235 apartments and condominiums, 2,738 hotel rooms, 172,794 square feet of retail space and 500,000 square feet of office space, totaling more than $1 billion in development.

In its proposal the firm said: "HRI Properties and its team members believe that many of the historic buildings located on the VA site could and should be retained and adaptively reused."

Some notable projects: HRI overhauled a collection of six empty warehouses in New Orleans' Mid City neighborhood. The property had been abandoned for 14 years. Today, it has a 20,000 square foot landscaped courtyard with a swimming pool. There is 19,000 square feet of neighborhood retail with a coffee shop, wine shop, salon, personal fitness facility, restaurant and a farmers market.

Would-be role in Gulfport: To restore the 92-acre VA property on U.S. 90.

Corporex Companies, LLC

When it was founded in 1965, the company's primary focus was on commercial construction, but it quickly expanded its operations to include full-scale development. The firm has developed nearly 10 million square feet of office and industrial space and more than 2,900 hotel rooms.

By 2004, the company's portfolio included more than $1 billion in owned assets and it employs nearly 4,000 people.

Some notable projects: The Kentucky-based company has partnered with a local firm to develop $60 million in projects at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, including construction of a 135-room Hilton Garden Inn and a 108-room Residence Inn by Marriott.

Ovation is Coporex's master plan for the redevelopment of the Newport Kentucky Riverfront. The $1 billion project will feature nearly 1,000 residential units, 200,000 square feet of retail space, more than 1 million square feet of office space and a 3,500-square-foot showroom.

Would-be role in Gulfport: To begin construction of a major development at an undetermined location downtown.

Coastal Renaissance Company

The company is a partnership between New Urbanist Henry Turley and Locally Global Investments.

When scores of urban designers gathered in Biloxi in October 2005 for a weeklong brainstorming session to devise plans for rebuilding the Coast, they may have torn pages from Turley's book of building.

The designs for Coast rebuilding revolved around walkable communities and picturesque neighborhoods, down-home storefronts and sandy beaches. There were ideas for sidewalks, plenty of parks and town gathering places, roundabouts to slow traffic on major roads, and lofts built above neighborhood shops. Turley's resume is full of developments that feature those ideas.

Some notable projects: Turley's Harbor Town community near downtown Memphis is hardly the typical suburban subdivisions of cookie-cutter houses, fenced yards and attached two-car garages.

Harbor Town is full of Southern-style apartments and houses clustered around town squares. The homes have small yards and large front porches, with garages hidden from the streetscape. Walking is encouraged along sidewalks or gravel nature trails. There is a neighborhood grocery store and a school.

Would-be role in Gulfport: The company would become the city's design consultant, advising and working on many projects throughout the city with an emphasis on residential neighborhoods.
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Old Posted Jul 17, 2007, 4:46 PM
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Diamondhead Casino turns down $100M offer

By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com
The Diamondhead Casino Corp. walked away from a $100 million offer it considers too low for 404 acres of land bordering the Bay of St. Louis and Interstate 10 and is considering other proposals from major investors.

"We are for sale," company Vice President Gregory Harrison confirmed, and with direct highway access and two miles of waterfront, "We know what the land is worth. We've got a whole buffet of options."

According to a press release issued Monday, "The company intends, in conjunction with one or more partners, to develop a land-based casino resort, condominiums and other amenities on the property." A deal with Donald Trump fell apart earlier this year when he pulled out of the casino business.

The $100 million offer would have brought just under $250,000 per acre. Diamondhead Casino already has a non-binding letter of intent to sell five acres for $750,000 per acre on the less valuable west side of the property. It would be limited to residential use and wouldn't interfere with the sale of the entire property, but would give the company $3.7 million cash.

Harrison believes people in the area will be shocked when an eventual sale or partnership is announced. "We're in joint venture discussions," he said, with entities who are not yet in Mississippi but are flying in on corporate jets to take a look. "Unlike all other properties in Biloxi and Gulfport, the property has no height or density restrictions," he said. Harrison said the interstate casino won't be a truck stop, but a first-class property.

The Diamondhead Property Owners Association is watching developments closely. The 4,500 residents are considering incorporation, and President Donald Kraemer said, "If we were to incorporate and become a city, that 400 acres would be in the city of Diamondhead." A casino resort would bring in considerable revenue and lower property taxes, he said.

Diamondhead Casino bought the 404 acres for $4.2 million in the early 1990s
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Old Posted Jul 20, 2007, 1:30 PM
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Jumping June sets record

$107.8M take at Coast casinos hits new Mississippi mark
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com

Coast casinos were back to setting records in June after revenues slid the previous two months.

"Another record not only for the Coast but also statewide," said Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

Jumping $3.5 million to nearly $107.8 million, June's gross gambling revenues at Coast casinos surpassed the previous June record of about $107.5 million in 2005, just prior to Hurricane Katrina.

"The numbers clearly indicate a solid and vibrant gaming market," he said, and that is translating into a number of developers showing up at his office.

On the Coast, they are looking at insurance, land and labor costs, and once these start settling down, Gregory predicts another big increase in development.

With the opening of the Hard Rock Casino, he expects even stronger numbers for July and believes the state is still on track for a record-setting $3 billion in gross gaming revenues for 2007.

"That's just extraordinary," Gregory said, "especially post-Katrina." The number of hotel rooms is about 70 percent of what the Coast had before the storm and the casinos at 67 percent the square footage.

State revenues dropped $2 million between May and June after casinos in the Mississippi River counties posted $5 million less. Gregory said the numbers are actually staying steady in those counties because revenues fluctuate each month depending on the number of weekends, the weather and other variables.

Tunica benefitted from the Coast casinos being closed after Katrina, and Gregory believes it will take a major property offering many amenities for that market to begin growing again.

The Gaming Commission has approved the Myriad casino for that area and three of five additional casinos on the site that are part of a $1.6 billion investment.
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Old Posted Jul 26, 2007, 1:54 PM
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Boutique shopping 'north of the waters'

North Biloxi area bustles with activity
By PRISCILLA FRULLA
pfrulla@sunherald.com

BILOXI --Boutique shoppers in North Biloxi will have more choices this fall with the opening of Shoppes Nord du Lieu.

Tenants in the $8 million office and retail development, named for its location "north of the waters," will include WOW Cafe, Smoothie King, Subway, a day spa, a clothing boutique and a "white tablecloth" restaurant called the Red Eye Grill, which will serve steak and seafood.

The Popp's Ferry and Cedar Lake roads area, where the complex is being built, is bustling with activity. Regions Bank bought an outparcel of the property and LaQuinta is building an 80-room hotel nearby before the end of the year, said Biloxi real estate broker Scott Delano of Gulf States Properties.

Delano said the developers hope to bring shops and services "closer to the rooftops" in adjacent neighborhoods.

In the last 10 or 15 years many retail developments have sprung up in the shadows of "power centers" around big-box stores, said Delano.

"We are marketing toward a boutique shopper," he said describing shoppers who want to get in and out of a small shop in less than 10 minutes and get home quickly.

Gulf States Real Estate Services of Mandeville, which is affiliated with Delano's Gulf States Properties, is the developer and construction management company for the project. The company will begin construction on a second phase around the beginning of September, pending permits, said Delano.

At the same time, tenant build-outs should begin in the first phase with openings several weeks before Thanksgiving to take advantage of the holiday shopping season, he said.

Space in the 75,000-square-foot retail center will be leased for $19 to $25 per square foot. The property includes one outparcel in addition to the Regions Bank site.

___________________________________


About time, this project has had a sign up for about six years. It is nice to see that it is finally getting off the ground and going to offer new shopping to North Biloxi, D'Iberville, and Woolmarket consumers. To often is shopping in the area solely focused on the tourism market, so it is nice to see some locals getting a new place!
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Old Posted Jul 27, 2007, 2:37 AM
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Image from Sun Herald ~ Bar at the Hard Rock Cafe


Quote:
I have already gone today, ate in the cafe, and bought my t-shirt!!!!!

It is absolutely amazing and I hope everyone on SSP gets to visit. THE nicest casino/cafe/hotel in the entire chain. GOOD JOB!!!
The Hard Rock is just AWESOME!!! Could easily replace the Beau as my favorite weekend trip.

BTW, kudos on your Gulf Coast thread RedUM, very informative.
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2007, 3:27 AM
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Margaritaville On The Way

~Sun Herald

$700M resort plans August groundbreaking
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com

BILOXI --A tropical breeze blew into Biloxi this week when the City Council approved plans for Margaritaville Casino.

"Pending permit approvals, groundbreaking on Margaritaville in Biloxi will be in August," said Jacqueline Peterson, senior corporate manager of communications for Harrah's Entertainment.

Harrah's, which owns the Grand Biloxi and Casino Magic, is building the $700 million resort on the beach in partnership with Pascagoula-born, world-renowned singer Jimmy Buffett. The resort is targeted to open in 2010.

Councilman George Lawrence still has questions about traffic but made the vote unanimous to approve an amended master plan and conditional use for the resort. Margaritaville Casino cleared both the Biloxi Architectural Review Commission and Planning Commission on July 5.

Lawrence is sure the resort will be popular and he is concerned traffic will back up on U.S. 90. Harrah's is negotiating with the city to close Oak Street in exchange for building a boat ramp on Kuhn Street, and Lawrence thinks the boat trailers will cause even more traffic problems. He also went on record against the company building any parking garage directly on U.S. 90.

When Margaritaville is built, there will be less casino space in the area than before Hurricane Katrina, said Jonathan Kiser of Neel-Schaffer in Gulfport, which did traffic projections. There will be four signals on three westbound lanes and four eastbound lanes, he said, and multiple entry points into the resort. The parking garage at Grand Biloxi will be connected to Margaritaville Casino by two pedestrian walkways over U.S. 90.

Buffett is designing Margaritaville Casino around his memories of growing up on the Coast and said, "I plan to be pretty active in this." It's the first time the Margaritaville theme that Buffett has used to create casual restaurants around the world will be translated into a casino.

The investment is the largest in South Mississippi since Katrina, and Harrah's is also expanding worldwide.

Peterson said the company just announced a $1 billion expansion of their flagship resort, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Harrah's also recently announced new hotels at Harrah's Atlantic City and Harrah's New Orleans and an expansion of Horseshoe Casino in Indiana. Already the largest casino company in the world, Harrah's continues to develop its brand abroad. The purchase of London Clubs International included nine casinos in the U.K. plus three in Egypt and one in South Africa. The company is also building a casino in Spain and is looking to build in Slovenia.

"We're always looking for opportunities," said Peterson.



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Old Posted Aug 1, 2007, 2:19 PM
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Biloxi Yacht Club Sets Sail To New Site

~Sun Herald

Club hopes to break ground in mid-October
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com


BILOXI --The only thing found after a casino barge squashed the Biloxi Yacht Club during Hurricane Katrina was a trophy that is displayed in the temporary headquarters on the beach - a double-wide trailer - until a new home is built for the memento and membership.

The club has plans in hand for a new facility and last week received a conditional use permit from the Biloxi City Council. In the next three weeks they hope to get title to land they are trading for their old site at 430 Beach Blvd., said Commodore Jim Graham. Then they can break ground by mid-October and open the doors to a new 12,500-square-foot facility in spring 2009.

The new building has three levels and the Yacht Club needed a variance to build to an overall height of 68.5 feet instead of the 50 feet allowed by the land ordinance. "It's definitely elevated," Graham said of the new building.

Inside will be a dining room and lounge, a 4,000-square-foot banquet facility and a room where junior sailors can socialize and attend sailing classes, Graham said. Placing the swimming pool at the front of the property will give members sweeping beach views.

This will be the fourth Biloxi Yacht Club facility for the group that is the sixth oldest in the United States. Hurricanes claimed the others. The original built in 1901 was wiped out by a 1915 hurricane, Camille washed away the second in 1969 and Katrina destroyed the third in 2005.

Developers of the Tivoli Hotel site approached the Yacht Club before Hurricane Katrina about buying their property. "They said they needed the Yacht Club for the view," said Jude McDonnell, the Yacht Club commodore in 2004. Mike Boudreaux and New Orleans developer Jim McPhail had plans to restore the historic hotel before Hurricane Katrina destroyed it.

After the storm, Boudreaux and Biloxi Capital LLC, owners of the Tivoli site, agreed to trade a parcel of land east of Tivoli to the Biloxi Yacht Club for the club's original property on the west side.

Attorney David Wheeler told the City Council the Yacht Club will retain a five-foot strip of land on the north side of U.S. 90 from the current marina to remain upland owners and keep riparian rights. Biloxi Capital has an option to relocate the marina within five years, Wheeler said. The five-foot strip and the current marina property would then transfer to Biloxi Capital.

Councilman Mike Fitzpatrick made a point of asking if the Yacht Club is benefiting from the owners of the Tivoli property, "just like the VFW." He was told the Yacht Club is receiving both the land and money and if the deal falls apart, the Yacht Club will stay where it is and get an SBA loan to rebuild.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2434 also recently traded land for its former site adjacent to the Tivoli property. Biloxi Capital and applicant, New Orleans developer Kenny Lobell, received a variance from the City Council to rebuild on Howard Avenue and Kuhn Street.

Graham said the Yacht Club is in the process of revitalizing the marina that currently has 22 slips. "We had 50 before the storm, and we're going to go back to 50," he said, whether at the current location or the new site if Biloxi Capital chooses to relocate the marina.

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Old Posted Aug 9, 2007, 1:38 AM
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Biloxi Planning Commission approves new VFW

By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com


BILOXI --Nearly a dozen members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2434 wore their hats and brought their design for a new center to the Biloxi Planning Commission on Thursday. And they got their first approval.

By unanimous vote, but with several stipulations, the Planning Commission agreed to a VFW neighborhood center at the corner of Howard Avenue and Kuhn Street. The VFW application for conditional use now goes to the Biloxi City Council.

The hearing for the VFW was continued from the July 19 Planning Commission meeting when several residents were concerned about noise, late hours, alcohol and a big metal building in their neighborhood.

VFW Commander Joseph Canale said the 383-member VFW has operated out of a donated trailer in the parking lot since Hurricane Katrina destroyed their previous center.

"Originally, it was going to be a metal building," said Kenny Lobell of Biloxi Capital, who showed the commission drawings for a nearly $600,000 VFW center. The 5,100-square-foot building will be elevated 10 feet with space underneath that can be used for picnics.

Biloxi Capital wants to build a billion-dollar casino resort on the Tivoli Hotel property adjacent to the current VFW site and is relocating the VFW to a nearby 1.6-acre site the company owns. The VFW "asked us to come in and help them," Lobell said, and Biloxi Capital will help them pay for the building and find a contractor.

"This is an application for a neighborhood center, and we don't believe this is a neighborhood center," Attorney Stanton Fountain Jr. argued on behalf of four Kuhn Street residents. He said the building was a lodge or club as defined by the city ordinance, and neither is allowed in an R-5 zone, nor is alcohol.

"Are they known for wild parties?" asked Commissioner Jamey Hunt.

"As far back as any of us can remember, we have never been cited for a violation resulting from noise or an alcohol-related problem," Canale said.

The Planning Commission recommended the project with several conditions, including limiting the public entrance to Howard Avenue and restricting the hours of operation from noon to 10 p.m. on weekends and 2 to 10 p.m. on weekdays.
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Harrah's profits jump on Coast, in Las Vegas

Margaritaville groundbreaking coming soon
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com

BILOXI --Margaritaville Casino sails into Biloxi on a wave of good news, with this month's groundbreaking coming soon after Harrah's Entertainment announced Tuesday its second-quarter profits jumped 85 percent.

Singer Jimmy Buffett came to Biloxi in May to announce his partnership with Harrah's, the largest casino company in the world. Together they will build the $704 million Margaritaville Casino on the beach. Construction is expected to begin this month and the resort will open in 2010.

Harrah's reported second-quarter net profits of $237.5 million compared to $128.7 million for the same time last year.

In the Mississippi and Louisiana region, total revenue was up 15.3 percent for the first quarter. During the first six months of 2007, this market earned $779.5 million, a 21 percent increase from the $643.2 million for the first half of 2006, when Harrah's Grand Casino Biloxi was closed for the period after Hurricane Katrina. Insurance proceeds of $37 million above net book value were included in the second-quarter income.

Results were also strong in Las Vegas, where Harrah's recently announced a $1 billion expansion and renovation of Caesars Palace.

Earnings were $922.5 million, up 14.8 percent over the second quarter of 2006.

In Atlantic City, revenue was up 13.7 percent to $592 million but income from operations sank almost 38 percent. Harrah's reported that "competition from new slot operations in New York and Pennsylvania, the implementation of new smoking regulations in New Jersey beginning April 15, and increased costs associated with marketing and promotional programs continued to hurt results in the Atlantic City region."

Harrah's Chester Casino and Racetrack, which opened in Pennsylvania in the first quarter, helped boost the area's results.

The sale of Harrah's Entertainment to a private investment group for $17.1 billion is expected to be complete at the end of this year or early 2008.

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Public hearing set for Tivoli site

Supporters, opponents get 3 minutes to speak
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com

BILOXI --Developers of a proposed $1 billion casino project will reveal their plans for the old Tivoli Hotel site at a public hearing Monday night that will also see a revival of the Reviving the Renaissance Committee.

The Biloxi City Council directed the Planning Commission to hold the hearing to determine public sentiment for rezoning 30 acres of land from multi-family residential and commercial to waterfront. Public comments will be limited to three minutes to allow as many people as possible to speak.

The beachfront land north of U.S. 90 is the former site of the Tivoli Hotel. Councilman Mike Fitzpatrick said the Tivoli property owners will make a full-scale Powerpoint presentation.

A representative of Reviving the Renaissance is expected to present a letter from Ret. Gen. Clark Griffith, chairman of the committee that drafted a plan to restore and rebuild Biloxi after Hurricane Katrina.

It's a high-stakes proposition for Biloxi Capital LLC, the owners of the old Tivoli Hotel site. With soaring construction costs and insurance rates, they may not be able - without casino revenue - to finance the project they hope to build.

The developers declined to share their plans with the Sun Herald before unveiling them at the hearing.

In a presentation to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum Commission in July, Fitzpatrick asked for the commissions support for rezoning the property and detailed the plans and the revenues that would be generated.

He said the proposal is for 2,500 hotel/condos, 6,500 parking spaces, 100,000 square feet of casino space with 3,000 slots and 100 table games. The developers plan five indoor and three outdoor restaurants, 100,000 feet of retail shops, two swimming pools, a clubhouse and 175,000 square feet of meeting space.

With projected gross gaming revenues of $315 million, Fitzpatrick said the city of Biloxi would receive $13.8 million per year and the Biloxi schools $7.9 million. The $2.9 million that would go toward the Coliseum debt each year would cover almost the entire yearly interest the commission now pays. More than $2 million in tax revenue would go to the tourism commission, $9.4 million to Harrison County and $35.6 million to the state, Fitzpatrick said.

The hearing is intended to discuss whether the property should be rezoned waterfront, which would be necessary before the Mississippi Gaming Commission would even consider whether the property is a legal casino site.

In a letter to the Biloxi City Council, MGC Chairman Jerry St. Pé and Executive Director Larry Gregory cautioned that even if Council rezones the property, that doesn't qualify the site for a casino.

The current proposal sets the boundaries on the south as the mean high-water line (the toe of the seawall), north to Howard Avenue, east to Kuhn Street and west to Holley Street.

Gregory said the intent of the onshore casino legislation approved after Hurricane Katrina is for casinos to be located within 800 feet of the water's edge, or where the water and land meet. Gregory said he used the water's edge, not the toe of the seawall, to determine the 800-foot distance for Treasure Bay. The 800-foot law also requires the casino be adjacent to the state waters.

The Judge Cox Supreme Court ruling set the beachfront in that area as public property and although residents who own property upland of the beach pay a yearly tax on the riparian rights, they can't build on the beach.

Griffith will be out of town Monday but his letter will be read during the hearing.

"Tivoli is absolutely the wrong thing to do for a lot of reasons," he said last week and the Reviving the Renaissance Committee will speak out on important issues as they arise.

They fought the "375-foot monstrosity" when the condotel was proposed and now are speaking out against the proposed casino.

"The biggest reason is the city of Biloxi has told us all along they don't want to do that," he said of the rezoning.

At town meetings held after Hurricane Katrina, "The central theme that came out in every ward across the city was don't let us become wall to wall condos and casinos," he said, particularly along Beach Boulevard.

To get the state Legislature to agree to onshore casinos, "We had to convince them that we were not going to expand gaming." Local leaders had to promise they weren't going to rezone a bunch of other property.

"Rebuild the Tivoli Hotel," he suggests, as Biloxi Capital originally proposed. Or put a park on the site as the Living Cities plan proposed. The legislators have told the City Council no, the Gaming Commission said no and the residents of Biloxi said no to expanding casinos, "and they are ignoring all three," Griffith said.

Biloxi Capital hasn't applied for the rezoning. In July 2006 the City Council considered asking the Planning Commission to hold a hearing to rezone part of the Tivoli site and another area across from the sand beaches. They backed away from the idea when Mayor A.J. Holloway said he would use his veto power to prevent the city's waterfront from going "wholesale casino." Holloway said he will listen to Monday's public comment, but hasn't said if he would veto a zoning change on the Tivoli property.

Gregory told the Sun Herald in 2006 any developer must still prove the land next to water is an integral part of the development.

"It can't be land over there for people to just walk up and down," Gregory said. "It has to be connected. Integral is the appropriate word. That means significant. That's what we're going to look at."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you go

Who: Biloxi Planning Commission.

What: Public hearing for proposed rezoning of old Tivoli Hotel site.

When: 6 p.m.

Where: Donal

Snyder

Community Center, 2530 Pass Road.


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Old Posted Aug 13, 2007, 7:44 PM
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Talking Margaritaville construction under way; 'The Today Show' here Tuesday

Video Link


By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com

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BILOXI --Without fanfare, construction began on Margaritaville Casino on the beach in Biloxi, three months after Jimmy Buffett sang "Margaritaville" as he and Harrah's Entertainment announced they were joining to build the $700 million resort.

Construction is expected to take 2-1/2 years, with the resort opening in early 2010.


Jacqueline Peterson, senior corporate manager communications for Harrah's Entertainment, said "The Today Show" will be at Harrah's Grand Casino Biloxi and the Margaritaville site Tuesday filming a segment for its "America the Beautiful" feature on how the casinos are helping to rebuild the Coast.



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Tivoli casino approval facing challenge

By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com

BILOXI --Developers are aware it will be a challenge to get the Mississippi Gaming Commision to rule their property is a legal casino site, especially since they don't plan development on the sand beach south of where they propose building the Tivoli Resort and Casino.

Daniel Conwill IV, managing partner of the property owner Biloxi Capital LLC, showed picture postcards of the old Tivoli Hotel to the crowd at Monday night's public hearing. One old photograph was of the seawall, which Thompson Engineers used to determine the location of the toe. They measured 800 feet inland and planned the casino to be entirely within the 800 feet, as required by the onshore gaming law.

According to state law, private property north of Beach Boulevard cannot be zoned for gambing unless it is connected to private property that touches the waters of the Mississippi Sound.

The company's lawyers and consultants outlined their strategy to have the site deemed legal for a casino.

They hired attorney Britt Singletary, who was successful in getting the IP property declared a legal site. He told the crowd he will educate the Gaming Commission on the legalities of the property and he hopes they will be "fair-minded."

Gaming Commission Chairman Jerry St. Pé said Tuesday, "This isn't about educating the Gaming Commission but meeting the requirements of the law."

Singletary said U.S. 90 isn't owned by the state but is an easement, which excludes that area from the 800-foot rule. The determination of a legal site has nothing to do with the casino property touching water, he said, or the legislators would have written that into the law.

Rep. Roger Ishee, one of about a half-dozen state legislators who attended the hearing, said the onshore gaming legislation narrowly passed. "They wanted to abolish it," he said of legalized gambling, and he believes talk of rezoning the Tivoli property is hitting them over the head with the issue.

Attorney Michael Cavanaugh showed a photograph of the Island View Casino in Gulfport as an example of a casino that was approved north of U.S. 90. The developers also pointed to the Broadwater Casino that was also approved as a gaming site on the north side of the highway.

"We have not approved anything that is similar to this site," said Larry Gregory, Gaming Commission executive director. With the provisions of the law and the 800-foot regulation, "We're looking at a whole different scenario. Nothing has been presented to this commission by anyone," he said. St. Pé said that while zoning is critical to determining a legal gaming site, it's not appropriate for the Gaming Commission to get involved or comment on the zoning process.

One audience member said it's unreasonable to think the site can't be developed without a casino when there are condos under construction up and down the beach.

The public hearing will be continued during the Planning Commission hearing Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Community Development office.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tavistock Group
The majority partner in Biloxi Capital LLC, Tavistock is a global company with interests in 170 companies in 15 countries, according to its Web site. Their holdings include name brands like Puma and Vans sportswear and Bristol Cars Ltd., along with insurance services, boutique restaurants and golf communities. Their Web site is tavistock.com.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tivoli Group Makes Pitch For Casino Zoning Change

Developers say their billion dollar casino plans for the old Tivoli hotel site are absolutely the right thing to do. Now, they must convince the Biloxi Planning Commission to rezone the Tivoli property.

The proposed casino has 2,500 condo rooms, a variety of shops, several restaurants, and a casino. And it could mean $21 million a year in taxes for Biloxi and its schools. But, the new Tivoli can't be built without a zoning change.

Just hours before a Monday public hearing about the Tivoli's zoning, Biloxi Capital gave WLOX News a computer enhanced drawings of what it would like to build in east Biloxi. Dan Conwill is one of the equity partners in this endeavor.

"It's ambitious, yes, but it's also a very realistic project," he said after rehearsing for the Monday night hearing.

Developers of the new Tivoli have acquired 30 acres of land between Highway 90 and Howard Avenue. They'd like to convert an area littered with the weedy remnants of Hurricane Katrina into a massive Biloxi resort.

"I think it's what the coast needs to expand this marketplace," Conwill said.

The Tivoli site is down the street from Biloxi's casino row. However, nothing west of Kuhn Street is zoned for casinos. And Biloxi Capital needs the waterfront zoning distinction before the new Tivoli comes out of the ground.

To help make that argument, developers got a letter from former Biloxi mayor Jerry O'Keefe. It was included in the packet of information given to WLOX News prior to Monday's public hearing. O'Keefe is rebuilding his home on Beach Boulevard. It's just a block or so from the Tivoli site.

"Now is the best opportunity in 38 years to realize the great potential of this property," O'Keefe wrote in a letter he'll present to the Biloxi Planning Commission."

He points out that the land sat mostly unused since Hurricane Camille hit the coast in 1969.

"This land is like a bride waiting at the church for 38 years, now is the time to act."

If the developers can the city's okay, they must convince the state to go along with their proposal So far, the Mississippi Gaming Commission has not taken an official stance on the Tivoli project, because developers have not filled out a site application yet.

However, gaming agents recently sent a letter to the Biloxi City Council. And it noted that if there was public sand between the water's edge and the on shore spot where a casino would operate, gaming commissioners would generally turn down that application.

The Biloxi Capital team has hired attorney Dan McDaniel. He specializes in Mississippi casino site approval cases.

"I think the site is legal. It's my opinion the site is legal," McDaniel said.

Developers say they'll worry about the legality of the site after they get the waterfront zoning change from Biloxi.

"Without a casino, you could never afford to build a resort of this scale, and with the amenities we're offering," said Conwill.

by Brad Kessie


Check out this LINK! They have a film on what the Tivoli project could look like. It would be the first TRULY Las Vegas style project on the Gulf Coast.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Personal Note:

Although I truly hope that this project does get built, I sincerely believe that it will not. There are far too many NIMBY's up and down the coast in Biloxi that feel if this project passes, the entire coast will be condos and casinos. It is stupid for them to believe that though because who in the heck goes to Biloxi for the beach. The casino commission has also made it abundantly clear that they are not in favor of this project. The state legislators (especially those from Middle and Northern MS) that are from dry, "God fearin'" counties that want to abolish gambling in the state (even though it is the second largest producer of tax revenue) will ensure this project fails. There are so many obstacles for this project to overcome that I have not put it on the proposed sites portion at the top because frankly it is probably not going to happen. Still cool to look at though
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Old Posted Aug 19, 2007, 3:12 PM
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Casinos spell recovery with a B

By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com
It was a record-breaking year for the Coast casinos, when Hard Rock Casino opened two years later than expected, Jimmy Buffett brought Margaritaville to Biloxi, Emeril kicked it up a notch in Gulfport and new projects were measured "with a B."

Billions have been invested in Coast casinos since the storm. The goal for this year's state gross gaming revenue is $3 billion, and a billion-dollar casino is proposed in Biloxi that will test the 800-foot rule for onshore gambling.

At the Southern Gaming Summit in May, Gov. Haley Barbour said he doesn't want gambling to expand beyond the current seven counties. That statement didn't stop opponents of a proposed Choctaw casino in Jackson County from worrying when Beasley Denson was elected the new Choctaw chief in July. Denson said he would look to the will of the tribe rather than this November's non-binding referendum in Jackson County to determine if the Choctaws will pursue a Coast casino.

When the Isle of Capri celebrated the 15th anniversary of casinos in August, Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway said the state far surpassed the original projections of six casino boats and $10 million in revenue for the state.

"We don't have paddlewheelers. Nor do we have casinos. We have casino resorts. We have a multibillion-dollar industry."

Casinos contributed more than $800 million in tax revenue to the state and cities in 15 years and Holloway said, "I hate to think where we would be today in this post-Katrina world were it not for the revenue and jobs created by this industry."

Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission for the past 12 years, thinks of the casinos as children he has watched grow. The state has evolved to one of the top 10 gambling markets in the country, and he's expecting more casinos to come.

Biloxi growth

Casinos have driven the Coast's post-Katrina economy, especially in Biloxi. Every casino in the city expanded or updated, and Hard Rock Casino, two days from opening when Katrina hit, finally got its debut.

Competition was keen for celebrity partnerships, promotions and expansions, yet cooperation among the casinos brought people back to work and moved the Coast to recovery. Players rewarded the casinos with record earnings.

Harrah's Entertainment and singer Jimmy Buffett are partnering to build Margaritaville, with construction to begin in August. Bacaran Bay plans to break ground before the end of 2007 and summer 2008 is the target for groundbreaking at Bayview Casino Resort next to Boomtown on the Back Bay. The Broadwater property has more than 200 acres to develop and spokesman Mark Calvert said they are looking for the right joint venture or sale. A $1 billion casino is proposed on the site of the old Tivoli Hotel, but that location faces rezoning by the Biloxi City Council and having the property declared a suitable site by the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

John Ed Ainsworth is managing partner of Old Bayview, one of the developers of the Bayview Casino, and he's excited about the possibilities in East Biloxi. Once Bayview and Bacaran Bay are built, the development on the Back Bay will equal that on Front Beach and he sees both locations doing well.

Boomtown Casino Biloxi, "the lone rider without any infrastructure," said Gregory, was successful in having the property the company purchased after the storm rezoned to waterfront. That opens the possibilities for an onshore casino rather than the current barge and lodging, although Gregory said it doesn't necessarily have to be a hotel.

Penn National, parent company of Boomtown Biloxi and Hollywood Casino Bay St. Louis, and Harrah's Entertainment are both being sold to private investment groups. What changes that might mean to expansion projects isn't clear, although it hasn't stopped the plans for Margaritaville.

The national press took notice of the record revenue posted each month by the casinos and the celebrities coming to the Coast. Hard Rock Casino and Beau Rivage brought major stars to town and IP Casino teamed with the Mississippi Coast Coliseum to host a Roy Jones boxing match and other events.

The casinos used Katrina as an opportunity to rebuild bigger and better, with signature golf courses, fine restaurants, elegant spas and updated decor. Palace Casino opened a bakery and cafe among its many renovations and Treasure Bay expects to have their hotel tower and CQ restaurant open in September. Isle of Capri moved its corporate headquarters out of Biloxi and away from hurricanes, yet invested millions in the Biloxi casino.

D'Iberville

Site work is beginning at two casinos on the north side of the Bay and residents report that Harrah's is buying property in D'Iberville.

At Royal D'Iberville Casino, Mark Seymour Sr. said, "I've got all the approvals ready to go."

The West D'Iberville Casino being developed by former Las Vegas casino executive Peter Simon is expected to come before the planning commission shortly with site plans, according to D'Iberville City Manager Richard Rose. The casinos will be closer to Interstate 10 than the Biloxi casinos and Rose said the casinos are raising property values and residents are eagerly awaiting the change "on the northwest side of D'Iberville Bay Bridge."

Gulfport

Emeril Lagasse opened his very popular Emeril's Gulf Coast Fish House as part of the Phase II of Island View Casino's project. A third phase is coming south of U.S. 90 in Gulfport with plans for a hotel, more parking, perhaps a boardwalk and other development.

Isle of Capri intends to expand to western Harrison County with a $250 million Pine Hills Casino and development. "We continue to view that as a very attractive property," said Allan Solomon, executive vice president, especially with Go-Zone tax credits and the site's proximity to Interstate 10.

Although Long Beach voters approved casino development in the city, Mayor Billy Skellie said, "No one's been in my office making proposals" on property near the harbor. That is the only site he believes is legal, although there was a developer looking at another site the mayor doesn't believe will meet Gaming Commission approval.

Hancock County

Hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina, Hancock County bounced back with the help of its two casinos.

"It's been a fantastic 12 months," said Bob Davidge, particularly because 900 people were able to go back to work as Hollywood Casino Bay St. Louis reopened.

While plans are being drawn for a hotel and meeting space at Silver Slipper Casino, the resort will have its first on-site accommodations when an RV park opens at the end of August.

The value of casino development was evident when Diamondhead Casino stockholders turned down an offer for

$100 million for its site directly off Interstate 10. Jets continue to fly into the area with major developers aboard who are interested in investing in Mississippi Coast casinos.

Virginia McDowell flew to the Coast for a quick look within days of becoming the new president of Isle of Capri Casinos. "We're working hard," she said, "and we're looking forward."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Mississippi casinos

Here is a statistical breakdown of legalized gambling in Mississippi for the calendar year 2006:


Operating casinos: 27


Casino employees: 26,010


Gross gaming revenue: $301.62 million


Visitor volume: 35.65 million

- MISSISSIPPI CASINO OPERATORS, MISSISSIPPI GAMING COMMISSION


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VA’s past, future coming together

By KAT BERGERON
kbergeron@sunherald.com

This is the story of the Mississippi birthday party that never was.

The state made humongous plans to celebrate its 100th birthday with a world’s fair, although they were called “expositions” in those days. This one would be the Mississippi Centennial Exposition.

More than a dozen foreign countries, Uncle Sam, modern manufacturers and many municipalities and states planned exhibits for the sixmonth party.

Attractive Spanish mission buildings were designed and an internationally acclaimed landscape architect hired. The chosen 147-acre site in Gulfport was touted for its waterfront beauty. Dec. 10, 1917, came and went without centennial fanfare. No birthday candles. No bands. No exclamations of the modern marvels such fairs introduced to a world moving far beyond the Industrial Revolution.

Instead, Navy sailors filled the exposition grounds. In a fit of patriotism at America’s entry into World War I, Mississippi had offered its centennial site free to the government.

The eight completed centennial buildings became the Gulfport Naval Training Center, and when the war ended the site became a medical center for military veterans. As new buildings went up, most adhered to the mission architectural style.

Fast-forward to the 21st century and this becomes a story of storm survival and renewal.

Hurricane Katrina badly damaged the Gulfport center of Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System — known locally as “the old VA.” A month after Katrina struck, the Department of Veterans Affairs decided repairs were too costly and did what it had threatened to do for years, close the Gulfport center.

In what could have been a losing situation, Gulfport came out on top when the VA gave the property to the city. As might be expected, heated discussions between residents and city officials centered on what should become of this prized land. The decision: To be developed as a new resort with many of the 19 buildings saved.

The developer, HRI Properties of New Orleans, will receive historic-preservation tax credits for doing the exacting restoration work.

“The VA is quite a landmark for the Mississippi Coast, and it is significant that the city decided to work with firms that will include the historic buildings,” said Ken P’Pool of the Mississippi Department of Archives & History, a champion of saving the Coast’s Katrinadamaged architectural heritage.

“Historic buildings like these are going to provide the symbols of stability and continuity and will be a rallying point for revitalization. They are a chapter in the continuum.”

That continuum began in 1912 when the state Legislature did the unusual by favoring the Coast over historically influential Jackson and Natchez. Legislators decided the exposition would be in one of the youngest cities, Gulfport, incorporated only 14 years earlier.

Jealous cities were finally resigned when legislators passed a 1916 bill that named the location. Even before that, Gulfport, Harrison County and the state contributed $125,000 each to a start-up fund, equivalent to $2.6 million each in today’s dollars.

Plans were for 18 centennial buildings, 10 of them permanent because the grounds would later be a park, much like Balboa Park after the Panama-California Exposition in San Diego. That California fair was running full steam as Mississippians planned their fair, so organizers studied what worked well there.

Mississippians grew wideeyed at the prospects: San Diego had reported more than doubled bank transactions, populations and building permits. Other local spin-offs became obvious. With all the visitors — estimated to be at least 15,000 a day — plans were finalized for an $800,000 bridge over the Bay of St. Louis. Gov. Theodore Bilbo pushed for a Coast-to-Jackson road to be called the Mississippi Centennial Highway and the feds agreed to match a dollar for every dollar raised for the road now called U.S. 49.

Russia, Italy, Persia, India, Spain and China were among countries committed to exhibits. The Southeast Satsuma Growers planned an orangeshaped building, and that was just the tip of the exhibit iceberg.

This exposition would be both education and entertainment. The coliseum was to seat 5,000, and Chicago and New Orleans entrepreneurs were to bring a carrousel and Ferris wheel. The state approved a new, 63-member National Guard cavalry to encamp on the grounds.

Mississippi’s famous aviatrix, Katherine “Loop-de-loop Girl” Stinson, would fly across the nation, and that, too, was just the tip of the promotion iceberg.

Although many Coast longtimers remember the VA site was to be a birthday exposition, its hugeness and economic spin-offs are long forgotten. Too much has happened since the Party That Never Was.

When the U.S. entered World War I, Mississippi offered the government use of the exposition grounds as proof positive the second state to secede in the Civil War had rejoined the Union.

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Old Posted Aug 19, 2007, 6:06 PM
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I wonder how much money from tax breaks and other funds intended to repair homes and schools for the working class struck by hurricane Katrina are being used on these luxury condos. I know there are a few in Alabama according to the AP...
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What they use is GO Zone Tax credits. Almost every luxury condo being built receives GO zone tax credits. These tax credits can be used by home owners to rebuild, but insurance has gone up so much if you live within a mile of the beach, that most people are selling to the condos and moving north of I-10.
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Hancock revs up for new space

~The Sun HeraldBy J.R. WELSH

STENNIS SPACE CENTER --Hancock County and NASA reaffirmed their prominence Thursday when ground was broken for a $175 million facility that will test engines powering the nation's next phase of space exploration.

On a blistering morning more than 300 people arrived on chartered buses to watch as politicians, business people and NASA officials symbolically broke ground for the A-3 test stand. Beginning in late 2010 the stand will test engines for the Ares I and Ares V spacecraft to be used in the Constellation program, taking Americans back to the moon and eventually to Mars.

The event signaled the continuation of Stennis' historic role in space exploration, which began in the 1960s with the testing of engines that would lift the Saturn V moon rocket in the Apollo Program, and has continued since the 1970s with space-shuttle testing. The space-shuttle program is scheduled to end just as the Constellation begins.

"It's a fact that if you're going to the moon or Mars, you must go through Hancock County, Mississippi," U.S. Sen. Tent Lott told a jubilant crowd in remarks before the groundbreaking.

Lott joined a list of other speakers, including U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, Gov. Haley Barbour and Stennis Space Center Director Richard Gilbrech.

"The Constellation program presented a really critical need for testing," Gilbrech said.

Upon completion, the A-3 test stand will tower 300 feet above the ground; it is designed to handle thrust levels up to a million pounds. It will use a two-stage steam-ejector system to test engines at simulated environments in which they will fly.

The stand will be used to determine flight-worthiness of engines powering two spacecraft in the Constellation program. It will test rocket propulsion for the upper stages of Ares I, a crew-launch vehicle, and Ares V, a cargo-launch vehicle. It will also test the core stage of Ares V.

Ares I is designed to carry four astronauts to the moon and back to Earth, and support as many as six crew members on trips to Mars. The core stage of Ares V will be powered by RS-68 engines, being developed by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, which was involved in the Saturn space program back in its earliest days.

"We tested engines and sent people to the moon the first time, and we're ready to do that again," said Jim Maser, the company's president.

Since the 1960s Stennis Space Center has been a major economic force along the Coast and in southeast Louisiana. NASA alone employs more than 1,700 government workers and contractors at the center.

However, the scheduled end of the space-shuttle program had thrown shadows over the center's future. They are now being lifted by emergence of the Constellation program and construction of the new test stand.

Aside from the center's regular payroll and economic spinoff, a large number of construction jobs will be created until the enormous test stand is completed.

"This is a very important commitment and a renewal of support for Stennis Space Center," Cochran said.

Said Barbour: "Most jobs are created by existing businesses, and we don't have a better existing business than what goes on here at Stennis Space Center."

Taylor said much of the financial good fortune at Stennis, and for Mississippi in general, can be attributed to Cochran's efforts on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. He said it would be more appropriate if the new test stand had a different name.

"A-3 sounds way too commonplace," Taylor said. "I think 'The Thad Cochran Test Stand' would be better."
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