Development director looks at big picture; other news and notes

Casino resorts and condominium development are usually multi-million dollar propositions that generate big headlines, but Biloxi Community Development Director Jerry Creel says they are only part of the story in Biloxi these days.

“If you go to just about any major intersection in this town, you’ll see something under construction, under repair or under review,” said Creel, whose department has issued about 20,000 permits of one type or other in the 23 months since Hurricane Katrina.

The city lost about 6,000 of its 25,000 pre-Katrina structures, and only about 303 permits have been issued for new homes, but hundreds more, along with commercial development, are in the offing.

“I think it’s important that people look at Biloxi and realize that it’s not just condos and casinos,” Creel said. “Just last night, the City Council approved Villa Toscano, more than 80 single family residential lots off Atkinson Road in West Biloxi. At Cedar Lake Road in north Biloxi, you have Landmark Apartments – about 288 units with more on the way – where construction workers are out there seven days a week.

“And right down the street, we just opened a new Applebees restaurant, with a La Quinta hotel about 80 percent complete, and the Nord De Lieu retail center, a strip center is under construction, with two banks under construction at that same corner at Cedar-Popp’s.”

Creel also noted that subdivisions also are under construction on Brodie Road at Hengen Place and at Live Oaks on the Bay, with a townhome development underway on Cedar Lake Road.

“That’s just in north Biloxi,” he declared. “If you look to the west, you’ll see Dillards under construction at Edgewater Mall, construction almost complete at Edgewater Village, with about 40 percent already occupied, and a bank under construction a little further north on Eisenhower.”

Said Creel: “All of this tells me that Biloxi is not just about condos and casinos. Yes, those are important elements to what we are reviewing, but there are many other commercial and residential developments that are not only under review but actually under construction at the moment.”

To see permit information for Biloxi, click here.

On the future and the past

If you’re wondering what the future holds with the growth of the casino-resort industry in Biloxi, Mayor A.J. Holloway told a Tulane audience Tuesday afternoon, just look at the past.

The mayor said he stood by his post-Katrina statement that Biloxi could see as many as 18 to 22 casino resorts in the future, and he reminded audience members of quality-of-life improvements – in public education, public safety, parks and recreation, and the flow of traffic – that the city has been able to make as a result of the vibrant economy. Said Holloway: “We would not have been able to do any of these things without the revenue from gaming, and the engine that it has been for our economy.”

To read the entire text of the mayor’s comments, click here.

On growth of the city’s boundaries

Immediately after the Tulane appearance in west Biloxi, Mayor Holloway headed back downtown for a City Council meeting in which councilmembers voted 4-3 to begin the process of enlarging the city’s northeastern boundaries by 12-square miles.

“I think the important thing to recognize,” Holloway said later, “is Biloxi’s ability and financial wherewithal to provide municipal-level services to this area.

“If you look at the overall body of work and investment throughout our city – including Woolmarket – over the past several years, it should be an easy decision. At the same time, we have been and continue to address any legitimate concerns that are brought up.”

Directors of the city’s key departments have also compiled highlights of accomplishments and continuing work in the Woolmarket community. To see the report, click here.