Downtown plan: Return to the vibrancy of yesteryear

The draft of Biloxi’s Downtown Restoration Plan presented to the public today was clear: Re-opening Howard Avenue to two-way traffic, with on-street parking, needs to be Priority 1.

 And Southern Mississippi Planning and Development District, which is finalizing the five-year action plan in the next couple of weeks, says restoring two-way traffic to Howard Avenue could be realized in four to six months once construction begins. Estimated cost: $1 to $1.5 million.

The plan, which was presented by planner Lindsay Ward of the development district, also had a host of other recommendations for Year 1:

— Restoring the Saenger Theater and making use of an L-shaped alley that wraps around the theater

— Uncovering the authentic faƧade of the Barq Building and offering multi-use, affordable rent for small businesses and downtown residents in the building

— Enter public private partnerships to build camouflaged parking facilities in the downtown area, hosting retail shops on their ground floor

— Return Water Street, which runs east and west south midway between Howard and U.S. 90, to two-way traffic

— Create crosswalks at MGM Park and the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor

— Offer wi-fi throughout the downtown district.

In all, the 18-page report had 25 recommendations for the downtown area, with a goal of beginning 16 of them in the first year of the plan.

The overriding message of the plan: Move away from the urban renewal project of decades ago, when the city attempted to diminish the impact of Edgewater Mall by converting streets to pedestrian traffic only.

In fact, the report said, a nationwide study by the Downtown Fresno Partnership found that such plans in cities across the country had an 89 percent failure rate and the overwhelming majority had restored two-way traffic or otherwise repurposed.

The report also said the city should stop referring to its downtown area as the “Vieux Marche,” another carryover from the urban renewal effort, and refer to the street simply as Howard Avenue.

The downtown plan will “lay the foundation for the city to restore downtown Biloxi back to its vibrant and historically authentic self.”
See a proposal for Howard Avenue 
See the recommendations 
Read the entire plan 
See images from the meeting


Shuckers rest before heading on the road

The Biloxi Shuckers, after winning the series finale game Monday night at MGM Park against the Birmingham Barons 8-2, today have their first scheduled day off in 21 days.

The respite prefaces a 10-game road trip against division revivals, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

On Wednesday, Luiz Ortiz will start Game 1 with the first pitch at 7:05 p.m.  Live coverage begins at 6:45 p.m. on the Shuckers Radio Network, locally on WGGM AM-1240 and 100.9 FM. The game will also be available on

The Shuckers are scheduled to return to MGM Park on Sunday, July 30 for a five-game series against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.

Currently, the Biloxi Shuckers, a Double-A Southern League Affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, are fourth in the Southern League with an 11-14 record.
Visit the Biloxi Shuckers website


News and notes

Breakfast with the Mayor:  The Biloxi Chamber of Commerce with host this year’s third installment of Breakfast with the Mayor on Wednesday at 8 a.m. at the Hard Rock Live.  Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich will update the public on the city’s latest initiates.  For more information, call the chamber at 228-604-0014. 

Bike Biloxi:  Biloxi Main Street will host its monthly Bike Biloxi ride tonight beginning at 6 p.m. at the Biloxi Visitors Center.  Individuals are invited to bring their own bicycles for the 6.5-mile ride, and helmets and bike lights are recommended.  Bicycle rentals are also available at one of the two Biloxi Zagster bike stations, at the Biloxi Visitors Center or MGM Park.  For more information, call Biloxi Main Street at 228-435-6339.

The week that was:  The fire, police and community development departments report on activity from the past week.  To see the reports, click here