- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2016

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - The Art Deco building at Vieux Marche wears a “sold” sign and is about to go retro, taking it back to the brick exterior of the former Woolworth’s building and filling it with offices, shops and restaurants.

This is one of dozens of projects in progress in Biloxi, some downtown near the new baseball stadium and others throughout the city.

Hobbs Mize will remove the Art Deco façade on the Taylor building at 808 Howard Ave. He plans to expose its old brick, create a storefront again and return the Old Biloxi look with awnings and lighting that will fit in the Downtown Historic District.

“The interior of the structure will be remodeled to accommodate a restaurant, coffee shop, retail and professional office spaces,” Biloxi Community Development Director Jerry Creel said in his weekly report.

The developer said he also still plans a mixed-use building on the former Mike Hutter property at Vieux Marche. Both buildings are within walking distance of MGM Park.



Just a few blocks away, Patio 44 will go up this summer on Main Street. The casual fine-dining restaurant is expected to open in the fall. The proximity of the stadium was one of the reasons owner Ron Savell and his partner in the business, Mack Grubbs, chose the location. Thousands of people will attend games from April through the summer, along with special events, and Savell said, “We’re excited about that for sure.”

Nearby, a Hilton Garden Inn will be built at 648 Beach Blvd. and the former Santa Maria del Mar apartments will be renovated into a hotel.

Combine these new hotel rooms with hundreds more coming as the former Casino Magic is transformed into a hotel and water park, the Hyatt Place goes up and the La Quinta Inn is built west of Interstate 110, and the shortage of lodging since 2005’s Hurricane Katrina will be erased.

Sunbelt Lighting’s showroom will move from Gulfport to a new building on Cedar Lake Road near Love’s truck stop. Owner George Strickland said the core business is residential contractors buying lighting for new and remodeled homes. Several home builders recently built offices in Biloxi.

The casinos continue to invest in amenities. A country nightclub will debut soon at IP Casino, where suites are being remodeled. And the renovation of all the hotel rooms continues at Harrah’s Gulf Coast.

More fun is on the way to replace some of what was lost to Katrina. Land on U.S. 90 at Veterans Avenue is being cleared for bowling lanes at Big Play Family Fun Park and Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich announced during his State of the City address this month, “We are working with the Skrmetta family and expect to re-establish daily Ship Island Excursions to and from Biloxi.”

Biloxi has also applied for Tidelands and BP money to expand marinas, and build boardwalks and pavilions along restaurant row and a boat ramp in west Biloxi.

Gilich said Biloxi’s Community Development Department issued $86 million in permits in 2015 — $57 million in commercial and $28 million in residential development. The building boom will extend into winter. Creel reported 74 building permits were issued last week with a construction value of $1.1 million.

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Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

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