Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville gets green light in Biloxi

Jimmy Buffett and the Margaritaville brand are back in the Biloxi casino market, thanks to a unanimous decision today by the Mississippi Gaming Commission.

The world-renowned Pascagoula-born entertainer, who played his first gig at a once-popular nightclub known as Trader John’s on Biloxi’s west beach, was on hand to address the commission during the meeting, which was held at the Dr. Eldon Bolton State Office Building on Back Bay.

The commission — in giving site approval and the OK to proceed at the Fifth Street site off Oak Street — opened the door for construction to begin on Phase 1 of the project, a $51 million undertaking that will create a restaurant and bar, entertainment venue, casino and 18-slip full-service marina.

The project, which is officially known as Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville Casino and Restaurant, is expected to take nine months once construction begins. It will create 650 permanent jobs.

And, Mayor A.J. Holloway said, it will create a lot of attention.

“We have a chance to have something really special for this market,” Holloway said. “Jimmy Buffett and Biloxi are a natural. Jimmy Buffett got his start here in Biloxi, and now he’s returning to Biloxi to build on his success. Having the Jimmy Buffett brand in Biloxi will grow our market. It will add a new dimension to our appeal, and it will create a buzz.”

Commissioners noted the casino portion of the project — 26,000 square feet — is smaller than would normally be approved, but the Margaritaville brand made the difference. Developers also plan a $35 million expansion, which would nearly double the size of the casino, and a 25,000-square foot museum dedicated to music.

Holloway, meantime, felt the Buffett allure would attract attention. “Make no mistake,” the mayor observed, “this will be a national story when those doors open in nine months, and I look forward to that day and all of the great things to come, as Jimmy would say, ‘Down around Biloxi.'”

Photos: To see dozens of photos from today’s gaming commission meeting,
click here.

Holloway comments: Mayor A.J. Holloway abbreviated his comments today — “It’s like Henry the Eighth told his wives,” Holloway quipped to the audience, “don’t worry I won’t keep you long” — but to read the full text, click here.

The Old Brick House restoration: from beginning to end

Reminder: The ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally re-open the Old Brick House is this afternoon at 5:30.

For a behind-the-scenes look at the four-and-a-half year restoration — from beginning to end —
click here.