Walmart announcement highlights banner week for Biloxi

Walmart confirmed today one of the best unkept secrets in Biloxi: The retail giant says it plans to construct a new supercenter in west Biloxi, in the shadow of two well-known retail hubs, Edgewater Mall and Edgewater Village.

And the announcement, says Mayor A.J. Holloway, brings the curtain down on a week that also has seen the city issue construction permits on two other major projects, the $45 million expansion of the Palace Casino Resort and the $14 million Kroc Center at Yankie stadium.

Walmart says it will construct a 150,000-square-foot supercenter on C.T. Switzer Drive, midway between Eisenhower Drive and DeBuys Road, at the former site of a movie theater that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The retail giant also plans to construct roads that will provide access from Eisenhower and from Beach Boulevard.

“We’ve been speaking with Walmart for about a year now, and to have this west Biloxi announcement made in the same week that we’re seeing two major projects move forward in east Biloxi makes it that much better,” Holloway said. “These three projects -– the Walmart, the Palace expansion and the Kroc Center — are part of the more than $230 million in growth in Biloxi that’s either under construction or ready to come out of the ground.

“The balance and the diversity are just as important. We’re talking about major retail, tourism-related and multi-purpose recreation.”

Holloway also expected the Walmart announcement “to encourage new levels of interest at Edgewater Village and Edgewater Mall, where we already have more than a million square feet of retail in a climate-controlled environment.”

None of the developments required city tax incentives.

The Palace expansion will see 67,000-square feet of new construction and the renovation of more than 43,000-square feet of existing space at the Point Cadet resort.

The Kroc center, funded by the estate of McDonald’s pioneers Ray and Joan Kroc, will see a facility at Yankie stadium that will offer indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a performing arts center and a location for a number of other community services. The location was the result of a land swap engineered by Holloway before Katrina. In that deal, the city swapped the stadium for property across from the Biloxi Community Center that the Salvation Army had purchased from Biloxi Public Schools.

Said the mayor of the week’s announcements: “For those people who wonder what’s going on in Biloxi, I remind you that this is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re proud of the investment and work that we’re seeing in all areas of our city, and there’s more to come.”

Picture this: Historic progress in Biloxi

Progress is continuing on nearly a dozen historic sites in Biloxi. Click on the links below to see progress on five of the most high-profile locations:

— Construction of Lighthouse Park and Visitors Center, 49 images, click here.

— Restoration of City Hall, 105 images, click here.

— Restoration of Magnolia Hotel, 111 images, click here.

— Restoration of Old Brick House, 143 images, click here.

— Restoration of White House Fountain, 162 images, click here.

News and notes

Weekend preview: Among the events taking place this weekend are performances by Kenny Loggins, Boyz II Men and Chris Cagle, and on Saturday morning Treasure Bay will be hosting Bikers for Haiti, an outdoor fund-raising event. To see details on these events and others, click here.

Financially speaking, Part 1: The Biloxi City Council will hold a special meeting Tuesday at 9 a.m. to discuss city finances. The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held in the auditorium of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Municipal Building on MLK Boulevard.

Financially speaking, Part 2:
Among the topics on this week’s City Desk webcast are building permits, city finances, and registrations for summer camp and swimming lessons. To listen to the 17-minute program, click here.