Status report on blighted properties, infrastructure

Here is the prepared text of Mayor A.J. Holloway’s comments to the Biloxi Chamber’s Breakfast with the Mayor gathering on Wednesday, March 28, 2012 at the IP Casino Resort Spa.

Thank all of you for being here today.

I like to use these Breakfast with the Mayor gatherings to give you an update on city projects and to answer whatever questions you might have. And I also like to give you the inside story on big developments in our city, and that’s one of the things we’re going to do this morning.

Before we get to our special guest, let me give you a quick update on things.

Yesterday, at the City Council meeting, we moved forward with another half-dozen possibly blighted commercial properties. These are commercial structures that have pretty much sat stagnant since Katrina. We’re using special legislation to try to get the owners to either repair them, demolish them or sell them. Or we’ll come in and take action.

To begin with we had a list of 76 properties that appeared to be blighted. We whittled that down to 58 that were found to be blighted.

Of the 58, we have brought 50 to the city council for action. Nine were demolished. Two are scheduled to be demolished, 4 have been repaired. Nine more have repairs in the works, and four more have asked for more time.

Yesterday, we had three more ask for more time, and the most notable one was the White House hotel. I know that there are different opinions on this issue of the White House hotel, but I think we’re at the point where people want to see something done.

We’re continuing to work on our infrastructure program. We’re wrapping up out on Sunkist, and we’re cranking up off old Bay Road. Next will be Rodenburg and a couple other projects. Before we come to your neighborhood, we’ll send out notices and have community meetings. By the end of the year, we’re going to have about $160 million in work underway. That’s 10 times more than we were doing in an average year before Katrina.

We’re continuing to see progress out on the Popp’s Ferry causeway. We’ve run into huge voids caused by Katrina and the storms since Katrina, and the wave action from passing vessels. Since the work is going to take another 60 days, and you can’t use the road during that time, we’re going to make good use of the time and upgrade the boat ramps. This is a tidelands project that’s going to cost a total of about $900,000.

You’ve been hearing a lot about Margaritaville and the Golden Nugget, and Sharkheads and the new restaurants downtown, and what might be happening with the White Pillars, but today, I want you tell you about something else we’re excited about. Something that’s going to bring a lot of traffic and money and business to west Biloxi.

Today, we have a special guest who is going to give you the inside scoop on this new store – stuff you’ve never heard before. Ladies and gentlemen, join me in welcoming the manager of the new Wal-mart Supercenter, Michael McDavid.