9.8.23 – Sun Herald
A building boom is spreading to most every area of the Gulfport-Biloxi metro economy, bringing millions of dollars in construction to all 12 cities and three counties on the Mississippi Coast.
That investment reaches well into the billions of dollars with the addition of six new Navy destroyers being built at Ingalls Shipbuilding. The first heavy icebreaker to be built in the United States in 50 years is also in the works at Bollinger Shipyards in Jackson County.
It’s not just these major announcements that are creating a development buzz in South Mississippi, either. New restaurants and more family attractions are opening, casinos are getting remodels and small businesses are expanding.
Schools and housing are being built. And for the first time in a long time, new retail is making a comeback. BP and GOMESA funds continue to flood in, providing millions of dollars each year for new infrastructure and drawing more investment to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. “We’ve had a good to great year,” said Kenny Glavan, who has a view of the Coast economy from three perspectives. He is a new member of the Coastal Mississippi tourism board. He’s a Biloxi Councilman and also regional revenue and marketing strategist for Leisure & Lodging Investments, the company that opened the new Paradise Pier amusement park at Margaritaville Biloxi earlier this year and is restoring the Markham Hotel in downtown Gulfport.
Biloxi’s sales tax diversion from the state hit a record $1.4 million in July and the city has more than $80 million in new hotels, restaurants and other development proposed or on the way. Gulfport’s sales tax diversion soared to nearly $2.6 million in July and D’Iberville got close to a $1 million month in July, with its $971,200 sales tax diversion.
Here is some of the development and major work under way:
NEW PROJECTS IN DIAMONDHEAD, OCEAN SPRINGS
Diamondhead officials recently broke ground on a $4 million project that will create 3,000 feet of frontage for mixed use development. Mayor Nancy Depreo said the plan is for condos to be built over commercial space. This new commercial space will tie into the new waterfront project that includes a new boat launch and pier at the end of Noma Drive.
In June, two big projects in Jackson County combined for $30 million in construction permits.
Work is under way on OS 1515 mixed-use development on Government Street in Ocean Springs — a luxury boutique hotel with 32 guest rooms, an event space and a restaurant. Dale Partners of Biloxi designed the building and local contractors Orocon Construction and Aladdin Construction are building it. More than $23 million in building permits were issued.
Pascagoula scored a $21 million shopping complex to house some of the most frequently requested retail names in South Mississippi — TJ Maxx, Burlington, 5 Below, Rack Room Shoes and ALDI. Noon Real Estate, based in Chattanooga, Tennessee, is bringing this retail development that was financed in part with funds from the BP oil settlement. “I do think the BP funds and other funds are having an affect,” said Jamie Miller, executive director of the Gulf Coast Business Council. He counted more than $225 million in line item allocations of funds the state Legislature approved for cities and counties on the Coast this year.
Much of the investment of BP and GOMESA has been allocated to revitalize and improve downtowns across the Coast.
“Every city, I think, at this point is having some very positive downtown development,” Miller said.
Gautier was awarded millions for construction of MS Songwriters Performing Arts Center and a Town Commons Park with an amphitheater, a dog park, pickleball courts, fire pits and other amenities.
D’Iberville will get millions in funding to create a working waterfront attraction, Biloxi got $3.7 million from the state for Broadwater Marina restoration and every city and county on the Coast is getting a share to improve harbors, build new piers, improve drainage and to install a hydration station in Waveland.
Pass Christian received more than $17 million to improve the small craft harbor and for infrastructure and storm mitigation across the city.
NEW TOURIST ATTRACTIONS BRING FAMILY FUN TO GULFPORT-BILOXI METRO
Paradise Pier amusement park at Margaritaville Resort Biloxi opened in March, and more family fun followed. “People are looking for that list of things to do,” Glavan said, and locals and tourists are drawn to the go-cart tracks and other new attractions. Coastal Mississippi is helping promote festivals and those special events on the Coast that he said “truly give that One Coast experience.”
The new fun includes:
- TrainTastic opened in a sprawling 50,000 square foot building at 615 Pass Road in Gulfport to become a multi-generational attraction and the largest indoor model railroad museum in the world. They’ve got trains to ride, places to climb and Lego creations made with two million blocks.
- The old Margaritaville Casino on the Back Bay Biloxi was sold to the owner and originator of Dick’s Last Resort restaurants and Cat’s Meow karaoke bars the operate in some of the top resort areas in the country. Harry Mohney has big plans for Biloxi and will transform the former casino into an 11-venue entertainment complex complete with boxing matches.
- Blind Tiger Beach is coming to Henderson Point in Pass Christian in the spring. The waterfront development will be the first commercial in that area since Hurricane Katrina destroyed Pelican Cove Marina in 2005. Work has started on Blind Tiger Beach marina and restaurant, and the first commercial project at Henderson Point since Hurricane Katrina. Courtesy of The Blind Tiger
NEW RETAIL & CHAIN STORES BRING MORE SHOPPING TO SOUTH MS
South Mississippi eagerly awaits construction of the state’s first Buc-ee’s travel center off I-10 in Harrison county. It’s scheduled to open in 2025 and will be similar in size and scope to the largest travel center in the country, which Buc-ee’s recently opened in Tennessee.
A new Hobby Lobby opened in D’Iberville this year and several stores opened or are coming soon: ▪ Magnolia Soap and Bath at the Promenade in D’Iberville
- Sara Kate Boutique, 133 Davis Ave., Pass Christian is doubling in size and expanding into both buildings. ▪ Journeys opened at Gulfport Factory Outlets, featuring teen apparel and accessories.
- A second location for The Wedding Collection opened at 1228 East Pass Road, Gulfport. The original location is on U.S. 90 in Bay St. Louis.
- Small Town Bargains & Bins, a discount retail store, opened on Mississippi 57 in Vancleave.
- Kohl’s in D’Iberville added Sephora, now the only location on the Coast ▪ J Allen Automotive purchased Butch Oustalet Ford Lincoln Gulfport and Wiggins and Butch Oustalet Mazda
- Dolce Bakeshop now has a second location in Bay St. Louis at 131 Main St., the former location of Serious Bread. ▪ A Dollar Tree is coming to 1831 Popp’s Ferry Road in Biloxi, near Indian Drive.
- A Dollar Tree store is coming to 8915 Old Spanish Trail, Ocean Springs
- A Dollar Tree store is coming to 11390 Canal Road, Gulfport ▪ Chateau Soleil, a women’s clothing boutique, opened this year at 1313-B, 25th Ave., Gulfport
- Gulfport Tractor Supply added a new garden center ▪ Life’s Treasures, selling new and gently used goods, opened at 10905 Mississippi 57 in Vancleave. Proceeds help fund Life’s Food Ministry.
- A $3.2 million building permit was issued for a new retail strip center for SRS LLC, 6701 Old Spanish Trail, Ocean Springs
- A $251,000 building was issued for a retail center being built for Mack Hamilton at 7047 Mississippi 614, Moss Point
- Beau Rivage Resort and Casino is spending millions on renovations and upgrades. Twelve hotel rooms were remodeled into to six suites. The build of a new poker room will start Sept. 12 and will include a refresh of the buffet space. Until the new spaces debut in early December, the buffet will be in BetMGM for breakfast and lunch Monday through Friday. Weekend buffets will be upstairs in the Camelia Ballroom for dinner Friday, Saturday and Sunday and for brunch Saturday and Sunday.
- Harrah’s Gulf Coast opened a food court with three new restaurants in the former buffet space, giving customers the flavors of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and New Orleans, a new Asian restaurant and an ice cream spot.
- Chopstix restaurant at Scarlet Pearl Casino has a new look.
- Road House 777 Bar & Lounge at Hard Rock Casino Biloxi is open weekends with a country bar and live country music. Building permits were issued for these additional casino improvements.
- $1 million for renovation of casino, lobby and restrooms at IP Casino Biloxi
- $275,000 for renovations at Macau Kitchen, Hard Rock Casino Biloxi
- $100,000 for renovation of Asian Pit and $80,000 for renovation of High Limits at Hollywood Casino Gulf Coast at Bay St. Louis
More restaurants keep opening in South Mississippi and that’s a good thing for tourism, Glavan said. “People don’t stop talking about food and beverages experiences,” he said.
This summer people are talking about Kilwins ice cream and candy in downtown Ocean Springs and Toasted Yolk, that’s already become a favorite brunch spot in downtown Biloxi, across from MGM Park.
Not far away is the second location of Empanola Biloxi and soon to open is BrewPaddle Cafe at The Bella in Biloxi and will feature artisan breads, coffee, breakfast and lunch.
The Fly-By downstairs bar is open at Blow Fly Bar and Grill in Gulfport.
COUNTIES PUSHING THEIR BRAND
Big announcements keep coming this year, particularly in the shipbuilding industry in Jackson County, the rapidly expanding blue economy in Harrison County and space technology in Hancock County, bringing high-tech and high-paying jobs to the Coast.
Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula just was awarded a contract for the design and construction of six DDG 51 class destroyers. The amount of the contract wasn’t revealed, but the Congressional Research Service puts the cost to procure each ship at $2.2 billion. The new contract also sets aside a percentage of the cost for workforce development to train more shipbuilders in Jackson County.
NOAA Ship Ronald H. Brown is shown underway. It is being retrofitted at Bollinger Shipyards in Pascagoula to extend its life by 15 years. The Jackson County shipyard also is working on the first heavy ice breaker built in the U.S. in 50 years. Wade Blake/NOAA.
Bollinger Shipyards moved jobs to its South Mississippi facility after closing its New Orleans shipyard. The shipyard will build a $72 million APL-67 class of berthing barge, and is cutting steel on the first U.S. Coast Guard Polar Security Cutter, the first heavy icebreaker to be built in the United States in 50 years.
In Harrison County, Ocean Aero will debut its new facility at the Port of Gulfport in October. The company, which makes uncrewed machines that operate above and below water, moved to Gulfport from San Diego in 2021. Ocean Aero is moving its headquarters to the Port of Gulfport from California. The company created the first and only environmentally powered autonomous underwater and surface vehicle to explore on top of and under the water. Courtesy of MP Design Group/AnderCorp
The Phase IV expansion of the Bayou Bernard industrial Park along I-10 is under way by Harrison County Development Commission.
In Hancock County, the decades-old waterway lock system at Stennis Space Center was refurbished. The waterway is used to transport rockets from Michoud in New Orleans and other locations to Stennis for testing and get the rockets back out to go to space. The NASA Stennis canal and lock system was overhauled. The four miter gates are each seven feet thick and measure 60 feet by 40 feet. The waterway is used to transport rockets and other equipment to Stennis for testing. Courtesy NASA Stennis Space Center.
Relativity Space is expanding its rocket and engine test facilities at the Stennis Test Complex to test its Aeon R engines. The 3D printed rocket company signed a lease agreement on the vertical test — the first time a commercial tenant has modernized an underutilized legacy test stand at NASA Stennis. The company’s $267 million investment at Stennis will bring the company’s total footprint to 300 acres and provide hundreds of jobs
Rocket Lab is locating an engine test facility for its new large rocket Neutron at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, Point Eight Power, which makes power distribution systems, will open a new manufacturing plant in Hancock County, with a corporate investment of $7.75 million and 78 direct jobs. Pearl River County Industrial Park is a 130-acre park under construction.
MORE NEW DEVELOPMENT
Here’s a list of more development under way or recently opened in South Mississippi:
- $10 million for The Breakers OS LLC, new apartment buildings, 14912 Cook Road, Biloxi (St. Martin) ▪ $4.7 million for mixed use development, 1302 Magnolia Dr., Gulfport
- $3.5 million for Ulman Lofts renovation, 291 Ulman Ave., Bay St. Louis ▪ $2 million for new hotel at 314 Jeff Davis Ave., Long Beach
- $2 million for renovation of piers, pavilion buildings for Seafood Industry Museum, 367 Beach Blvd., Biloxi
- $1.8 million for two storage buildings, 13102 U. S. 49, Gulfport, Airway Development, Huntsville
- $1.7 million for renovations to Pilot Travel Center, 6705 Mississippi 63, Moss Point
- $1.7 million, historic building at 179 Old Pass Road E., Long Beach
- $1.7 million for Home Depot Tool rental center and storage addition, 15220 Creosote Road, Gulfport
- $1.3 million for new car wash, Bob and Arlene Wall, 2758 Pass Road, Biloxi
- $1.3 million for office and truck service, West Oak Lawn Properties
- $1.1 million for renovation at 720 Cleveland Ave., Long Beach
- $1 million for interior and exterior renovations of County Services, 5343 Jefferson Ave., Moss Point
- $1 million for 10,000 square foot cannabis cultivation facility, 5030 A Ave., Long Beach
- $800,000 for new commercial, PEJD LLC, 2107 Bienville Blvd., Ocean Springs
- $657,000 for renovation of balcony towers, Chateau Le Grand, 1130 Beach Blvd., Biloxi
- $650,000 for new Day care at 918 Pass Road, Gulfport
- $605,000 for day care center at 4325 Kiln DeLisle Road, Kiln
- $600,000 for accessory building for Platt Industrial Complex, 5905 Howard Ave., Biloxi
- $550,000 for Skye Storage, 2302 E. Pass Road, Gulfport
- $524,000 for camper’s check in, 14101 U.S. 49, Gulfport; also $21,000 each for four 1 BR cabins
- $500,000 for three unit strip center, 15160 Mississippi 67, Woolmarket
- $412,000 for renovation of first and second floors at Merchant’s and Marine Bank, 3118 Pascagoula St., Pascagoula
- $325,000 for child care facility, 1505 Lemoyne Blvd., Biloxi
- $294,000 for Red Auto Properties showroom, Coast exotic cars, 2137 East Pass Road, Gulfport
- Ocean Springs Senior apartments, 8905 Ocean Springs Road, Ocean Springs.
- Premier Ford of Waveland, 601 Highway 90, Waveland, got a name change from Henderson Ford
- Community Bank has expanded to a new branch at 541 Main St., Bay St. Louis.
- The First Bank has a new building in downtown Ocean Springs at 1700 Government St.
- Coltrane Lane Condominiums are being built by Walter Shah in D’Iberville. The duplex and triples units will be in five buildings Coltrane Lane Condominiums in D’Iberville are duplexes and triplexes in five buildings.
NEW & IMPROVED SCHOOLS
- $9.4 million for new aviation aerospace workforce academy at Pearl River Community College
- $8.4 million for Long Beach School District Career and Technical Education Center, 1 Bearcat Blvd., Long Beach
- $4.4 million for 9,540 square feet of classroom additions, Gulfport School District, 4051 15th St., Gulfport
- $3.5 million, Gulfport School District renovation, 2314 Jones St., Gulfport
- $3.5 million for 11,000 square foot field house at Harrison County School District, 10399 County Farm Road, Gulfport
- $2.5 million, for the first phase of a three-year renovation at Coast Episcopal School in Long Beach
- $1.8 million for Jackson County School District, school renovation, 10800 Yellow Jacket Road, Ocean Springs
- $1.1 million for Harrison Co. Schools, 11072 U.S. 49, Gulfport, warehouse renovation
- $391,000 for renovations of restrooms at St. Martin Stadium, 10800 Yellow Jacket Blvd., Ocean Springs
- $258,000 for Jackson County/ Jeff Head Start, 5343 Jefferson Ave., Moss Point
- Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is adding a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) building on the Harrison County Campus. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College is adding a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) building on the Harrison County Campus.
- $3.5 million for New Singing River medical clinic, 11700 Mississippi 57, Vancleave
- $2 million for Singing River Hospital fourth floor renovation, 15200 Community Road, Gulfport
- $1.6 million for second floor renovations at Oceans Behavioral Health, 180-C DeBuys Road, Biloxi