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Red UM Rebel
Jan 9, 2008, 4:24 AM
Bureau: Site too far from the reservation
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com

JACKSON COUNTY --The federal government delivered the same message to The Mississippi Band of Choctaws as voters did in November - there will be no Choctaw casino in Jackson County.

The Choctaws were one of 11 tribes to receive letters from the Department of Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs last week rejecting their bids for off-reservation casinos because the sites are too far from the reservation.

The decisions were based on a new BIA police that virtually eliminates any chance of off-reservation gaming, according to indianz.com, a Web site that publishes tribal news from across the country. Tribes can challenge the decisions before the Interior Board of Indian Appeals or file lawsuits in federal court. They could also submit new applications. "However those future applications will be subject to these same guidelines," the guidelines state.

A four-page letter dated Jan. 4 was sent to Choctaw Chief Beasley Denson by Carl J. Artman, the assistant secretary for Indian affairs. He said the tribe's application failed to show the casino was necessary for the tribe's self-determination, economic development or Indian housing. Jackson County is 175 miles from the tribe's primary reservation in Neshoba County, where the tribe already operates two casinos, and Artman said the distance might encourage those who live on the reservation to move for job opportunities.

The Choctaw application was filed in November 2005 for 61 acres along Mississippi 57, adjacent to about 40 acres where the tribe operates a printing plant and plastics business.

Jackson County voters turned down the proposed casino in a non-binding referendum in November. Although Artman's letter didn't specifically address the vote, Supervisor John McKay said he believes the vote influenced the decision.

"The people's voice was heard. This puts another nail in the coffin on the casino. The people of Jackson County voted against it. The governor said he would never vote for it." Now that the federal government rejected the site, "that should put it to rest forever."

"That part of the fight is over," said Eleanor "Cissy" Jordan, who led the Jackson Countians Against Choctaw Gaming. Now she wants residents to support a bill she believes will soon be introduced in the state Legislature to limit casinos to the counties where they are now located, "so we can rest assured that there will never be any casinos in Jackson County."

She worries about other businesses the Choctaws might propose for the Jackson County site. "We need job opportunities. We don't need tax-exempt economic development."

Artman said that although the land didn't qualify for an Indian casino, "It is our hope that the department will be able to work with the tribe to identify economic development opportunities that we can support mutually."

Red UM Rebel
Jan 9, 2008, 4:52 AM
:previous:

Speculation. I think part of announcing a casino in Jackson County was to try to slow down growth in Harrison. This letter made it clear though, that there will be no casinos off the reservation for the Choctaws. I think Denson will now look west and seriously consider a project in Harrison (most likely in Biloxi)

Velastor
Jan 9, 2008, 9:31 PM
If he does build one west maybe they will provide a little bit more detail to the project because it didn't look like the most spectacular project from the few renderings.

Sidenote: could this annoucement be the reason the Isle is finally gonna release their expansion plans, and could this also give the Palace enough proof that they could also get started on their plans, because I remember their manager being a big critic of the Choctaw casino.

Red UM Rebel
Jan 10, 2008, 5:52 AM
I think as the article put it that it is the final nail in the coffin to that project, and it will inspire those other casinos to start putting out plans. I am just ready for Bacaran to finally break ground. Even the the Marg. is a much more substantial project, at the rate Barcaran is going, it will open far behind the Marg. which could prove very bad.

Red UM Rebel
Jan 10, 2008, 6:15 AM
Publicity of port expansion at issue
By RYAN LaFONTAINE
rlafontaine@sunherald.com

~Sun Herald (http://www.sunherald.com/278/story/288177.html)

GULFPORT --
A dispute over a planned port expansion turned ugly Tuesday when casino executives walked into a tongue-lashing during a closed-door meeting at the State Port Authority.

From what could be heard through the walls in the lobby, Island View Casino and the port have reached an impasse.

"I'm talking right now; I'm talking," a port commissioner yelled at casino officials.

Island View executives have been the most ardent critics of a massive port expansion, mostly to the west. Until now both sides have managed to maintain a cordial relationship, at least in public.

The addition of more than 100 acres west of the port would devour a large stretch of beachfront directly in front of the Island View, almost to Broad Avenue.

The Port Commission met with Rick Quinn, the casino's vice president of public affairs, and Cathy Beeding, Island View's attorney, Tuesday during an executive session, a type of meeting closed to the public.

Quinn and Beeding believed they were there to discuss the port's plan and to work on a solution with the commission and officials from the Mississippi Development Authority. The port is working with MDA to obtain $600 million in Community Development Block Grant money to help fund the expansion. No one from the MDA attended the meeting.

Just before the executive session, the public was removed from the boardroom and emptied into the lobby at the Port Authority's downtown headquarters on the 14th floor of the Hancock Bank building.

The lobby and the boardroom are separated by a thin, stained-glass wall, which barely muffled the sound, especially shouts and loud arguments, such as those about why and how the port's expansion plan has become so public.

"The first time I heard anything about (the casino's concerns) was by reading the article in the newspaper," a commissioner said to Quinn.

"Your credibility is gone," Beeding confirmed Commissioner John Rester said to her.

The first time Quinn was quoted by the Sun Herald was when he addressed the Gulfport City Council during a meeting last month, which, unlike Tuesday's gathering, was open to the public.

"I didn't go to the newspaper," Quinn told the commission. "I've never called a newspaper or television station in my life."

Casino owner Rick Carter, who has more than $300 million invested in the Island View, recently said the idea of the casino's view of Cat Island being replaced by shipping containers and cargo vessels makes "me sick to my stomach."

The casino and other groups have suggested the port expand to the south, farther into the Sound, but port officials have said such a move would be logistically impossible, mostly because of the water depth in and around the channel.

On Tuesday, through the walls of the boardroom, Port Executive Director Don Allee was heard to hint at another reason for going west.

"The whole thing about the water depth; that's really not the driving force behind this," Allee calmly told casino executives. "It's all about economic justification."

Calls to Allee seeking comment were not returned.

BLX 101
Jan 11, 2008, 4:25 PM
The Isle is expecting executives in from St. Louis this Thursday and Friday to view the new plans for the casino. The Friedmutter Group which also redesigned Islandview, the IP and the much controversial Tivoli Casino has an office in Biloxi.


http://www.friedmuttergroup.com/

Velastor
Jan 12, 2008, 1:00 AM
Hopefully the meeting with the execs will go over well so the public can see these plans. If they get the same group that remolded the IP, we can expect great things because the IP went from crap to on level with the Beau.

BLX 101
Jan 12, 2008, 12:36 PM
Hopefully the meeting with the execs will go over well so the public can see these plans. If they get the same group that remolded the IP, we can expect great things because the IP went from crap to on level with the Beau.


I agree. The IP recently opened a portion of their land based casino and in an interview on the early edition of WLOX News yesterday, John Lucas said that more land base gaming and restaurants will be opening by Memorial Day. He said that the show room will soon double in size from 700 seats to more than 1400 seats and that the property across Caillavett Street will eventually, in phase II, be home to a second hotel tower, parking garage, retail and convention center. The following is an interview with John Lucas by the SunHerald on the IP's 10th year anniversary.



Posted on Sat, Dec. 29, 2007
IP's 10th year a new beginning
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com


BILOXI -- Hammers and drills heard around the property are evidence the 10th anniversary is another growing year for IP Casino Resort Spa.
On Dec. 30, 1997, the first guests through the doors of the Imperial Palace after months of delays found Las Vegas on the Coast with chandeliers, marble floors, oriental art and gangster Al Capone's 1930 Cadillac V16 limousine.

Trustee Jeffrey Cooper was there as an auditor on opening night. "It was like a circus," he said. The property was still being inspected and no one was sure when it would open.

"People were waiting at the front," he said, and he remembers they swarmed in to play the cash slot machines, which made a huge racket.

General Manager Jon Lucas was hired two months before Hurricane Katrina came ashore and shut down the casino industry. The Back Bay location of the Imperial Palace proved lucky and the IP was the first casino to reopen, Dec. 22, 2005.

Lucas said they looked at what was absolutely necessary to get back into business. "At the same time, we wanted to remodel or renovate away from the Asian theme and go to a more contemporary theme," he said.

Katrina gave them an opportunity, and Cooper said, "How often do you get to make a first impression twice?"

The IP, now operated by the Engelstad Trust, is building back bigger and better, said Lucas. On Christmas Eve a small section of land-based slots opened; in mid-May more of the land-based casino will debut, along with an Asian restaurant, video poker bar and a small shop. "It will just really transform that second floor," he said, "when you get off the parking-garage elevators into a really beautiful area."

Also included in Phase III is remodeling the ballrooms and showroom and adding another meeting room.

"We believe strongly in non-gaming amenities," Lucas said, and the IP plans to offer more entertainment in addition to its spa and restaurants.

"I wish Ralph were alive to see it," Cooper said. Ralph Engelstad, a builder and Las Vegas casino operator, spent $300 million to open the Imperial Palace. He moved in used slots and furniture to save money but Cooper said the resort was built to cater to both average gamblers and high rollers. It now has penthouse suites with designer furniture and high-limit tables.

"In gaming, you can't stand still" or people will stop coming, Cooper said. The master plan includes a hotel tower, new convention space and possibly bowling lanes and movie theaters.

"We can talk about all the bricks and sticks and all the renovations we've done. But in the end the biggest compliment that we get is about our people," said Lucas. When he was hired he vowed to employees, " 'Believe me when I tell you we will give you a place you will be proud of working.' I think we delivered on that."

BLX 101
Jan 14, 2008, 12:25 AM
Posted on Sun, Jan. 13, 2008
Coast bucks casino trends
By MARY PEREZ
SUN HERALD


-- BILOXI - It's a good bet that when the final gross gambling numbers for 2007 are released this week they will confirm it was a banner year for Coast casinos.
"There's no doubt it will be a record," said Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. Early last year he said an ambitious goal was $3 billion for the Mississippi casinos. Although the numbers will fall shy of that magic number, "It's going to be very close," he said.

Mid-month the Mississippi State Tax Commission posts the Casino Gross Gaming Revenue, which is the money gamblers wagered and lost at a casino each month. The December numbers will show both the month and the year-end tally.

Mississippi Gaming Commissioner John Hairston said Coast casino revenues topped $100 million in only one month in 2006. "In 2007 we had only had one month (October) that was below $100 million. We've already exceeded by a long shot the numbers from last year.

"December's always a little slower," Hairston said, and figures are expected to be slightly down from November. The big new is "all the casinos are doing OK." Treasure Bay took the biggest hit from Hurricane Katrina and Hairston said many people wondered if the smaller casino down the street from the Beau Rivage could compete. "We're delighted that they're doing very well."

The numbers aren't so rosy in other states. Atlantic City saw its first yearly decline in 28 years, dropping 5.7 percent after only three casinos posted gains in 2007. At the city's 11 casinos, the same number as on the Coast, revenue sunk from $5.21 billion in 2006 to $4.92 billion this year. The second largest casino market after Las Vegas, Atlantic City lost ground to number three, Mississippi.

Since neighboring Pennsylvania legalized slot machines, "It's taken a lot of business away," said Alan Silver, director of casino resort studies at Tulane University's Gulf Coast Campus. "There's no doubt that Atlantic City is being impacted greatly and the market that used to come from Pennsylvania to Atlantic City is staying home."

The same is happening in Reno and Lake Tahoe, Nev., where Silver visited recently. "A lot of casinos are crying the blues," he said, with business being hurt by casinos opening in California.

Could the same happen in Mississippi? "There is competition," from the expansion of casinos in Florida and other states, said Silver. "You have to look at the market and you have to have a unique market. Different areas sometimes have to reinvent themselves when the market gets competitive."

Las Vegas is doing that by tearing down the old casinos and replacing them with multi-billion dollar resorts. The city and its gross gaming numbers are booming, with more capital projects now under way on the Vegas Strip than the value of those already operating, noted Silver.

Atlantic City casino executives learned a hard lesson. "If you think people are coming to the property just to gamble your really missing it," said Jeff Cooper, trustee at IP Casino Resort, Biloxi. "In gaming you can't stand still." Atlantic City casinos owners are now upgrading their resorts and adding amenities.

Hurricane Katrina forced the Coast to rebuild its casino industry and Hairston said he hopes 2008 will bring more hotel rooms and additional convention and tradeshow business booked as the convention center expansion continues. Among the duties of the Gaming Commission is to create jobs and he hopes to see the 15,000 people now employed in the industry to increase with Bacaran Bay and Bayview casinos in Biloxi and hopefully two casinos in D'Iberville possibly starting construction this year.

He hopes that as hotels, golf, entertainment venues and water attractions are built, "We will see a little more robust type of visitor coming. Ultimately what we want is for a visitor to come down, stay in our hotel rooms, eat at our restaurants, maybe enjoy some time at the tables in our casinos, go fishing with one of our charter boat captains and play three or four rounds of golf."

He is optimistic for 2008 for the casinos but has some concerns. "I'm not as much worried about gas prices as I am a slowing economy," said Hairston. "We have weathered those storms through the '90s quite well. I believe we'll weather it better than the places that are a little harder to get to."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What's coming?
A look at current and proposed casinos on the Coast:

Beau Rivage - continues to bring in big name entertainment and celebrity events along with meetings and conventions.

Boomtown Casino - will debut the $5 million renovation to the buffet this weekend. A western theme and six cooking stations were added.

Grand Casino Biloxi - recently opened an Asian Gaming Room and a noodle bar, the first large project since the casino reopened after the hurricane.

Hard Rock Casino - New leadership will take over as President Joe Billhimer chose not to renew his contract to pursue new opportunities. His successor should be announced this week.

Hollywood Bay St. Louis - is getting its momentum back and continues to feature entertainment and its Arnold Palmer golf course, the only casino course on property.

Island View Casino - Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse's restaurant continues to attract visitors for the food and the view as the casino owners argue against the Port of Gulfport expanding west and blocking that view.

IP Casino Resort Spa - continues remodeling, opening its first land-based casino areas and preparing to open an Asian restaurant, a retail store and other amenities.

Isle of Capri - is expected to announce soon its master plan for the Biloxi resort. The company abandoned plans to build a casino in West Harrison County and reassessed plans in Biloxi.

Palace Casino - Business noticeably picked up after the first two lanes of the Biloxi Bay Bridge opened and it continues to be a popular destination of tour groups.

Silver Slipper - "Look for big things for Silver Slipper," said General Manager John Ferrucci as plans are finalized for an expansion.

Treasure Bay - opened its new restaurant, lounge and hotel rooms in the tower and work now progresses to the new infinity swimming pool and poolside hotel rooms, that will open this year.

Under Construction

Margaritaville Casino - the world is watching via construction web cams as the $700 million resort rises from the beach in Biloxi. It is due to open in 2010.

Proposed

Bacaran Bay - Torguson Gaming Group is completing preliminary site work and hopes to break ground in the first quarter of '08.

Back Bay Casino - Biloxi City Council will consider the developers' request for a zoning change Tuesday before the proposal goes to the Gaming Commission.

Broadwater Casino - rumors are swirling and Beverly Martin, executive director of the Mississippi Casino Operators Association, said, "

'08 might be the year for the Broadwater site."

Choctaw Casino - The Bureau of Indian Affairs ruled this month that the tribe can't build a casino in Jackson County because the proposed site is too far from the primary reservation.

Diamondhead Casino - The corporation that owns 400 acres of land along Interstate 10 is in negotiations to partner with a major casino company and build one or two casinos and other amenities.

Royal D'Iberville Casino - The developers are working with the D'Iberville Planning Commission to finalize plans so construction can begin on the casino with hotel, marina and open-air market.

West D'Iberville Casino - Application to the D'Iberville Planning Commission was made in December and then pulled by the developer of the proposed $250 million casino.

BLX 101
Jan 14, 2008, 3:40 PM
Posted on Mon, Jan. 14, 2008
BILOXI STILL MOVING FORWARD
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com


BILOXI -- Expect another controversial year in Biloxi as the city continues to repair the damages from Hurricane Katrina and embraces many new opportunities.
The fight to grow the city north will likely continue to upset neighboring municipalities. The school district will need to shift students to other schools to balance the population. Keesler Air Force Base's new commander will oversee base repairs, including the rebuilding of more than 1,000 houses. Developers are rethinking their plans to build condos on the beach and still more developers are contacting the city nearly every day. The need for affordable and senior housing continues to be great.

All these issues were supposed to be sorted out when the city embarked on a comprehensive plan to develop Biloxi's roadmap to the future. In March 2007, the City Council chose a Philadelphia, Pa., firm with extensive experience working with coastal communities to draw the new comprehensive plan for Biloxi.

"We had to reject the bid," said Mayor A.J. Holloway. "It came in too high."

Instead of a total amount, the company bid in the $400,000 to $700,000 range. The Mississippi Development Authority, which is paying for the study, wants a specific price. Rather than getting started, the city has to rebid and begin the process again.

Here is a look at the big picture of where Biloxi is now and what challenges are ahead:

City government

"Every day something good happens," said Holloway. The community center hosted its first Mardi Gras ball over the weekend and projects are starting across the city. Among the most anticipated are the Biloxi Lighthouse Park and Visitors Center, the Popp's Ferry Road extension and the rebuilding of the piers and marinas.

"We have an industry that's hurting there," Holloway said, noting that several charter boats have gone out of business.

"A lot of these projects we hope to be under way quickly in '08," he said. Most of the city wells are still running on generator and the streets, sewers, water lines and storm drains that were damaged in the storm surge will be replaced.

Even as the city rebuilds, it needs to prepare for future development. Holloway said he met with D'Iberville officials to try to reach an out-of-court agreement on land both cities are trying to incorporate. They discussed a compromise that D'Iberville originally rejected but later said it would negotiate.

An east-west corridor through Harrison County will take a long time, said Holloway, although a committee met with the governor in December to try to get funding for an environmental assessment study, which is the first step. Another bridge across the Back Bay also is being studied.

Biloxi School District

Enrollment in East Biloxi elementary schools is still down, said Superintendent Dr. Paul Tisdale. Gorenflo is at half of its pre-Katrina numbers, Nichols at 60 percent and Lopez at 70 percent.

Only 700 of the 1,300 military dependents, most of whom lived at the base, have returned. The buildup will be gradual over the next 30 months as housing opens at Keesler.

Although North Bay Elementary is using 10 modular units in addition to the 40 classrooms, "We're not overcrowded," Tisdale said.

More students attended the school before the storm and the pupil to teacher ratio is about 17 to 1, "which is what it is in other classrooms throughout the district. Capacity is almost beside the point. We're looking at pupil/teacher ratio."

At some point, he said, "We will have to rezone our elementary schools," and bus some students south of the bay. The question is, "which students and to which elementary school?"

Some parents object to this because they don't want their children going to a different school but Tisdale said more of a concern is the time classes start. The schools operate on a rolling basis with one-third starting at 7:20 a.m., the next beginning at 8:10 and the North Bay classes starting at 8:40.

At Tuesday's meeting, the board will consider moving ninth-grade students to the high school campus, the seventh-grade students into the junior high and the sixth-graders out of the elementary schools and into the seventh-grade building.

Tisdale said the move would make room for pre-kindergarten classes that could be financed by casino revenue from Biloxi casinos under construction or proposed.

Although the district has 50 fewer teachers after the storm, he said none were laid off and students have continued to excel, with the high school named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Keesler Air Force Base

Col. Greg Touhill said the current mission of Keesler is to "rebuild the base, renew the community and reload the Air Force," training personnel for missions around the world.

He and Vice Commander Col. Richard Pierce did a walk-through on the first three of 1,028 homes that are being rebuilt as part of the largest military family housing project in the history of the Air Force.

A Division Street gate that would move some of the Keesler traffic off Beach Boulevard is still conceptual, Touhill said, and would require federal government financing.

Developers

Condo projects in Biloxi were approved last year but never built. Mike Boudreaux, president of Gulf Coast Investment Developers in Biloxi, said he is optimistic more of these projects will begin this year.

"Construction costs have come down. Insurance has come down. Labor costs have come down," which he said was the biggest expense after Katrina.

Several condo projects, including Sea Breeze and Aqua, were redesigned to smaller units in the 500- to 850-square-feet range that are more affordable. Originally priced at up to $600,000, the new units sell for around $350,000.

Several developers are considering building combination condotels and hotels, Boudreaux said, with traditional hotel rooms on the lower floors and condotel units above.

Community development

Director Jerry Creel said developers who were waiting for the FEMA flood elevations are beginning architectural drawings and have target dates to begin.

"We have a lot of development happening in Biloxi," and Creel said he has constant phone calls, e-mails and visits from developers.

Work is under way all over the city, with Dillards opening this spring at the Edgewater Mall and the Popp's Ferry and Cedar Lake roads intersection in North Biloxi a continued hot spot. Creel hopes East Biloxi will "develop into the resort destination that everyone has envisioned."

He also sees residential areas in East Biloxi, especially around Division Street where the ground is higher. Commercial developments like casinos and apartment buildings can comply with the more stringent flood elevations and building codes in the higher risk areas, he said.

Biloxi Housing Authority

Director Bobby Hensley said by late January, the Biloxi Housing Authority will have homes to sell. "This is the first time we've done home ownership units," he said and the properties in East Biloxi are between two and four bedrooms.

"We're trying to keep properties affordable for people," which makes development north on Interstate 10 difficult until central sewer and water is available. "We definitely will be building more senior housing," he said, possibly on land near the beach at U.S. 90 and Brody Drive.

The authority also is looking at housing along Main and Division streets.

Holloway said between the casino numbers, the billion dollars of building permits issued since the storm and the Biloxi Bay Bridge reopening all lanes in April, "this all tells the rest of the county that Biloxi is indeed coming back bigger and better."

BLX 101
Jan 14, 2008, 4:30 PM
This morning I learned from my Supervisor that after viewing the redesigned casino plans, the new president granted an extension to the design team to make additional upgrades/changes to the Isle's master plan. She is intent on building a project that will be viable and competitive with Margaritaville and others that are soon to move into this growing market. I also heard a very interesting rumor.....the Donald may be acquiring the Palace. He has been trying to gain access to this market for more than a decade. His initial plans to acquire and expand Marine Life with a mega casino resort at the Gulfport Harbor was met with great opposition from the Harbor Commission. Most recently, his letter of intent to partner with the Diamondhead Group to build a casino off I-10 in Hancock County was anulled.

Velastor
Jan 14, 2008, 6:18 PM
Umm unless the Isle is either going up or across the street, it will be hard for them to compete with the spread Margaritaville is going to offer. I still look forward to any improvements.

The Palace is in a nice spot to expand with no buildings around it. Would be a nice fit with all of his other properties.

I really wish some real news would come from the Broadwater property other than....this year might be the year we talk about it.

BLX 101
Jan 15, 2008, 12:34 AM
Umm unless the Isle is either going up or across the street, it will be hard for them to compete with the spread Margaritaville is going to offer. I still look forward to any improvements.


The Isle's focus is not to be the biggest but to offer the best customer service. Adding retail, clubs and other entertainment venues would be a plus. They were well known for their convention business prior to Katrina. Currently the main casino floor is occupying the convention space but plans are to restore that valuable asset.

BLX 101
Jan 15, 2008, 3:31 PM
Posted on Tue, Jan. 15, 2008
South Mississippi in good shape for future
By LISA MONTI
lamonti@sunherald.com


-- Growth this year in the Gulfport-Biloxi metro area should "easily outpace" the national economy, says a new report by Moody's Economy.com.
The analysis of the area's strengths and weaknesses, prepared at the end of last year, said the economy in Harrison, Hancock and Stone counties "took a turn for the better, reversing course at the midway point" of 2007. The area's employment growth ranked first in the nation and projected third through 2011.

"Growth (in the metro area) will easily outpace the nation in the near term, as favorable demographic trends from individuals returning to the area drive the economic recovery," wrote Nathan Topper, the report's author.

"From the service industry standpoint, the casinos have definitely been the ones that have led the way," said Larry Barnett, executive director of the Harrison County Development Commission.

On the manufacturing side, he said, Soprema, Gulf Ship, Trinity Yachts, U.S. Marine, Northrop Grumman, Seeman Composites and Future Pipe have all made investments in their facilities.

The outlook for Jackson and George counties, though not as robust as their neighbors, is still strong, thanks to the industrial fortunes of shipbuilders and manufacturers, the report said.

"Pascagoula's economy has gained momentum over the past few months," Topper wrote.

The Katrina effect is still being felt, most obviously in the lack of housing and, on the upside, in the potential from government incentives such as the Gulf Opportunity Act.

"With only about 25 percent of the funding designated for Mississippi being disbursed so far, the benefits of this plan will continue to be realized," the report said of the GO Zone.

Among the strengths cited for the metro area were casinos rebuilding larger than before, exposure to a growing export market and a stable military presence, including upgrades at Keesler Air Force Base.

Legal battles with insurance companies and slow rebuilding were listed on the downside of the forecast by researchers.

For Pascagoula, the high points were a good outlook for the shipping industry, including Northrop Grumman's defense contracts, and the Chevron expansion.

Weaknesses were little diversity for the economy and housing affordability.

Red UM Rebel
Jan 16, 2008, 4:43 AM
This morning I learned from my Supervisor that after viewing the redesigned casino plans, the new president granted an extension to the design team to make additional upgrades/changes to the Isle's master plan. She is intent on building a project that will be viable and competitive with Margaritaville and others that are soon to move into this growing market. I also heard a very interesting rumor.....the Donald may be acquiring the Palace. He has been trying to gain access to this market for more than a decade. His initial plans to acquire and expand Marine Life with a mega casino resort at the Gulfport Harbor was met with great opposition from the Harbor Commission. Most recently, his letter of intent to partner with the Diamondhead Group to build a casino off I-10 in Hancock County was anulled.

I am expecting you to step it up and get them on the ball. I want something incredible, 4 diamonds maybe 5 ;).

The donald taking over. I think it would be very interesting, but I guess he could build one of his gold towers in the sky. I can't wait to get some interesting news out of somewhere

Red UM Rebel
Jan 16, 2008, 4:44 AM
Posted on Sun, Jan. 13, 2008

Boomtown Casino - will debut the $5 million renovation to the buffet this weekend. A western theme and six cooking stations were added.


Look for a hotel to be introduced by the end of 08 :tup:

Red UM Rebel
Jan 16, 2008, 4:46 AM
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com

BILOXI --Duncan McKenzie is the new rock star at Hard Rock Casino Biloxi, taking over management of the resort Monday from his friend, Joe Billhimer.

"This is a great property, great brand," said McKenzie, who resigned last week as regional vice president of Isle of Capri Inc. to take the job of president and general manager of Hard Rock.

"I'm excited to carry it to the next level."

Billhimer chose not to renew his contract as chief executive officer and for the next couple of months will stay with Hard Rock's owner, Premier Entertainment Biloxi, to help with the transition.

"I want to look at other developments here on the Coast," he said. "I like the development role. There's a lot of projects out there. They just need a little push."

Billhimer has shown his ability to complete projects by overseeing the building of Hard Rock, then doing it all again after Hurricane Katrina destroyed it two days shy of opening.

"It was mentally and physically draining," he said.

McKenzie was his choice as a successor "because he can do all facets of the job," said Billhimer. "He's the right person at the right time. Hopefully, the foundation of the business is very well entrenched," both the Hard Rock brand and the casino.

McKenzie's goals will be to continue to grow the business and to continue to look at expansion projects already being explored, Billhimer said.

"Joe and I have been friends for years," said McKenzie.

He was manager of the Grand Biloxi when Billhimer managed the Grand Gulfport.

Both are committed to the Coast.

"I plan to do everything in the world I can to stay on the Coast," said Billhimer, who was married here and is raising his family in Pass Christian.

After moving many times while raising their family, McKenzie said he and his wife decided, "This is where we wanted to stay."

LINK (http://www.sunherald.com/casinos/story/300033.html)
______________________________________________________________

BLX, looks like Isle lost a good guy. I have met McKenzie actually, and I bet he will grow the Rock

BLX 101
Jan 17, 2008, 11:20 PM
Look for a hotel to be introduced by the end of 08 :tup:


I was recently told that Boomtown may be about to reveal plans for a 400-600 room hotel.

BLX 101
Jan 17, 2008, 11:40 PM
I am expecting you to step it up and get them on the ball. I want something incredible, 4 diamonds maybe 5 ;).


The Isle held a State of the Property Address...so-to-speak...yesterday for all employees. Given the fact that I work graves, I did not attend but was filled in by my supervisor during our daily briefing. Plans call for construction to resume soon and that the parking garage will have to be reconfiguered and expanded. The older section of the hotel will be renovated simultaneously with the construction of the new casino. The project is scheduled to be completed before Margaritavilles opening. Hopefully the specifics will be released soon.

Velastor
Jan 18, 2008, 3:20 AM
The report that Biloxi broke the 1 billion mark in revenue should spur a lot of development for those that were waiting to see if the market would return.

About Boomtown, supposedly all development of Penn National properties is suspended till they become a private company. While it didn't stop the new buffet, which I hope to get to visit during spring break, it will probably prevent something that would cost more than just a few million. So if they get all the approvals to go private quickly, then maybe we will see that hotel soon and maybe some touch ups to the Hollywood BSL.

Also the Silverslipper is suppose to be adding a hotel and other ammenities as well soon.

BLX 101
Jan 19, 2008, 9:27 PM
The Isle will be a spectacular site from the top of the new Biloxi Bay Bridge. While walking pass an opened office yesterday, something (out of the corner of my eye) grabbed my attention. It was an awsome rendering of the redesigned resort. All I can say is JOB WELL DONE! Very modern and contemporary giving the hotel tower a complete exterior make-over. Hopefully, the plans will be made public very soon.

Velastor
Jan 20, 2008, 3:07 AM
How is the cities dock/port/fishing area, the one right by the isle, mixed into the plans? I cant remember the name right off the top of my head.

Red UM Rebel
Jan 20, 2008, 4:08 PM
Do you mean the JL Scott Aquarium?

bayou15
Jan 20, 2008, 4:36 PM
Hey REB, Did they build the hardrock to small? Could they add on? Everytime I geaux there it seems packed out!

Velastor
Jan 20, 2008, 5:51 PM
I was talking about the big marina behind the Isle. Maybe that one is owned by the Isle and im confusing it with something else.

Red UM Rebel
Jan 20, 2008, 6:22 PM
I was talking about the big marina behind the Isle. Maybe that one is owned by the Isle and im confusing it with something else.

It is still there actually. BLX please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe boats are still parking there.

Red UM Rebel
Jan 20, 2008, 6:26 PM
Hey REB, Did they build the hardrock to small? Could they add on? Everytime I geaux there it seems packed out!

The casino is actually about 15000 square feet smaller than the original that Hurricane Katrina destroyed. I believe they eventually might exapand and build a second tower behind the pool area somewhat over the water and expand the casino in doing so. Right now though, I believe they are just working to expand the brand and keep it packed so they can get the cash flow to eventually expand. I originally thought they might expand to the area between the Hard Rock and the Beau, but it seems like that land and the land across the street have been bought by Al Copeland who is interested in developing it.

Red UM Rebel
Jan 20, 2008, 6:28 PM
I was actually on the Coast this weekend, but the weather was so bad that I was unable to get out and take pictures. I will be down there in the next couple of weeks and will try to get pages for the first page of this thread and also post some on here to show what is going on.

BLX 101
Jan 20, 2008, 10:58 PM
It is still there actually. BLX please correct me if I am wrong, but I believe boats are still parking there.


The Point Cadet Marina is in operation and it is owned by the city of Biloxi. Access is through the Isle's entrance.

BLX 101
Jan 20, 2008, 11:10 PM
The casino is actually about 15000 square feet smaller than the original that Hurricane Katrina destroyed. I believe they eventually might exapand and build a second tower behind the pool area somewhat over the water and expand the casino in doing so. Right now though, I believe they are just working to expand the brand and keep it packed so they can get the cash flow to eventually expand. I originally thought they might expand to the area between the Hard Rock and the Beau, but it seems like that land and the land across the street have been bought by Al Copeland who is interested in developing it.


I've recently learned that Al Copeland is having health issues that appears to be serious. I'm certain that any casino proposal that he comes up with will be faced with difficulties and many oppositions. My hope is for Hard Rock to expand onto this property with a condotel.

Red UM Rebel
Jan 22, 2008, 12:41 AM
I've recently learned that Al Copeland is having health issues that appears to be serious. I'm certain that any casino proposal that he comes up with will be difficult and face many oppositions. My hope is for Hard Rock to expand onto this property with a condotel.

I read in the paper about a month ago that he has some form of cancer. I do however disagree with you that it would be hard to build a casino on that land. Because he owns the large chunk of land across the street he could build a tower between hard rock and beau and small casino and then have a cross over like old Grand's and build a much larger resort on the other side of the street.

Do to the fact that the Hard Rock had to sue its loan company, it will take a while for them to rebuild their credit and trust within the credit community, so a condotel will likely be unimaginable for at least five to maybe ten years.

I do hope some plans (like Isle being redone or something else of that nature) are announced soon so it will get TGGI's butt into gear on the Bacaran. At this rate the Margarittaville will be open before it.

BLX 101
Jan 22, 2008, 9:20 PM
I read in the paper about a month ago that he has some form of cancer. I do however disagree with you that it would be hard to build a casino on that land. Because he owns the large chunk of land across the street he could build a tower between hard rock and beau and small casino and then have a cross over like old Grand's and build a much larger resort on the other side of the street.


I have to respectfully disagree with you. Even with the property that he controls on the North side of 90, it still is'nt adequate real estate to build a large enough casino, with the neccessary amenities to be viable. Not to mention the required parking. I seriously doubt that the city would grant permission to block a downtown street that leads to the hospital and other businesses. This area is considered the historic district adjacent to Mary Mahoney's and the historic Magnolia Hotel; it is promoted as a self guided tour. In recent meetings, some councilmen have become out spoken regarding developers building large obtrusive parking structures immediately on Scenic hwy 90. They want them set off from the hwy or buffered significantly. The issue was raised upon approving Margaritaville's master plan. One councilmen stated that he was "tired" of it. I would not be surprise if a resolution is passed this year against it. Even gas stations on 90 have faced difficulties rebuiding.

Red UM Rebel
Jan 23, 2008, 12:15 AM
I have to respectfully disagree with you. Even with the property that he controls on the North side of 90, it still is'nt adequate real estate to build a large enough casino, with the neccessary amenities to be viable. Not to mention the required parking. I seriously doubt that the city would grant permission to block a downtown street that leads to the hospital and other businesses. This area is considered the historic district adjacent to Mary Mahoney's and the historic Magnolia Hotel; it is promoted as a self guided tour. In recent meetings, some councilmen have become out spoken regarding developers building large obtrusive parking structures immediately on Scenic hwy 90. They want them set off from the hwy or buffered significantly. The issue was raised upon approving Margaritaville's master plan. One councilmen stated that he was "tired" of it. I would not be surprise if a resolution is passed this year against it. Even gas stations on 90 have faced difficulties rebuiding.

Although I agree about the councilmen being tired of it, designing a casino that integrates its large parking underneath it in a way that is aesthetically pleasing would make those locations viable casino locations. And the city really does not have to approve, it comes down to the gambling commission (as they so readily pointed out during the whole Tivoli thing), and if the site is eligible, then it is approved. I doubt anything will be built in either of those locations for a very very very long time, which is very disappointing because that really is prime real estate for a condotel (hard rock or MGM or otherwise owned) as you pointed out. They could also fit probably as much as a 40K square feet casino in their if it were two or three levels that looked out over the gulf much like the TBAY did.

Velastor
Jan 23, 2008, 12:25 AM
I have to agree with BLX to a degree, Biloxi doesn't need any more small casinos. Small resorts without gambling halls would be a nice addition, something like a hotel room, with a pool, weight room, and a few other additions.

Also that site has been talked about a few times during the gaming commision reports and it was to small to even receive approval from the gaming commision.

Even if the gaming commision just loved a casino and told them to build it at that site, if it falls within city limit the city can always stop the project from going forward as long as enough council men and the mayor are opposed to the project.

Also casino need to start "hiding" the big ugly parking decks. They could easily cover them up with some type of theming. They could grow vines around the sides and have little thin water falls every 10-20 feet cascading down the sides of them and put little lights along the sides of the falls that light up at night. There are endless possiblities for them to fix this up and I think the city should push for this, but they should start right away with all new projects and then find a way to "force" the other to comply.

Back to that property I think it would be a nice spot for a stand alone amenity. Someone could open a nice restaurant similiar to M.M. and draw large crowds away from the casinos. They could even put condos or hotel rooms over the restaurant or shops. It would be wise though to try and incorporate both the Beau and HR into their plans if it was possible.

Red UM Rebel
Jan 23, 2008, 8:05 PM
Although that site is small, look at the Cosmo being build out in Vegas. It is amazing now what they can do with the smallest patch of land. Also, the idea of a condo or restaurant going in in that location would probably be better than a smaller stand alone casino, but it all comes down to funding. You will notice that most of the condo projects are still in "design" phase or are trying to build in gaming elements. With our economy the way it is, the only way to afford to build anything like that these days is by adding a gaming element. But as I said, it will be a long time before anythin is put there anyway.

BLX 101
Jan 23, 2008, 10:20 PM
And the city really does not have to approve, it comes down to the gambling commission (as they so readily pointed out during the whole Tivoli thing), and if the site is eligible, then it is approved.


Again, I must respectfully disagree. You have grossly misunderstood the intent of the commissioners letter. The issue with the Tivoli was whether or not the site was legal according to the interpretation of the law regarding legal casino sites. It stated that it had the final say on which sites were and were not legal and that they would not even consider any project without the approval and support of the local government. When they said it didn't matter how the city ruled, they were refering scrictly to the legality of the site.

Red UM Rebel
Jan 24, 2008, 7:07 AM
Again, I must respectfully disagree. You have grossly misunderstood the intent of the commissioners letter. The issue with the Tivoli was whether or not the site was legal according to the interpretation of the law regarding legal casino sites. It stated that it had the final say on which sites were and were not legal and that they would not even consider any project without the approval and support of the local government. When they said it didn't matter how the city ruled, they were refering scrictly to the legality of the site.

Ahh I misunderstood then and thank you for the correction. I dabble around with drawing sometimes, and after you mentioned it I drew an addition that wrapped around the pool along 90 with a long shopping promenade and connected to Hard Rocks new twenty five story condo tower on that location we have been discussing. After taking to the time to do it, I actually agree that a site there would look good, but I am still afraid that it would take HR a while to get the resources to build on that location.

Red UM Rebel
Jan 24, 2008, 7:08 AM
The Isle will be a spectacular site from the top of the new Biloxi Bay Bridge. While walking pass an opened office yesterday, something (out of the corner of my eye) grabbed my attention. It was an awsome rendering of the redesigned resort. All I can say is JOB WELL DONE! Very modern and contemporary giving the hotel tower a complete exterior make-over. Hopefully, the plans will be made public very soon.

Also, could you be any more specific about contemporary or at least do you have any idea when the plans will be released?

BLX 101
Jan 24, 2008, 9:46 PM
Also, could you be any more specific about contemporary or at least do you have any idea when the plans will be released?


Actually, the extension expires today. I'll see if I can learn anything tonight. For the most part, the exterior design is basically the same rendering which was previously released by Wlox and the SunHerald early last year. The most drastic change is the sweeping roof design of the hotel tower and the color scheme. I do have a picture of that original design but as I stated previously, I have yet to learn how to upload photos to this site.

Red UM Rebel
Jan 25, 2008, 5:09 PM
BLX,Velastor and others to upload photos, you will need a flickr or similar account.

www.flickr.com (if you already have a Yahoo account it is the best one to use)

You will upload your photos to that site. Once they are uploaded about the photo they will have several tabs, and one will be all sizes. Click on that and then click on the size you would like and scroll to the bottom. There will be at the bottom a line of code that will look like (http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2024/2052075664_16996f3383_o.jpg) and source that onto this thread.

What I mean by source them is that you will type

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2024/2052075664_16996f3383_o.jpg[/ img] *except don't leave a space between the back slash and the final img

if done correctly it should look like

[img]http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2024/2052075664_16996f3383_o.jpg

Red UM Rebel
Jan 25, 2008, 5:14 PM
Development, schools continue to be hot issues
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com

LINK (http://www.sunherald.com/278/story/297093.html)

BILOXI --Expect another controversial year in Biloxi as the city continues to repair the damages from Hurricane Katrina and embraces many new opportunities.

The fight to grow the city north will likely continue to upset neighboring municipalities. The school district will need to shift students to other schools to balance the population. Keesler Air Force Base's new commander will oversee base repairs, including the rebuilding of more than 1,000 houses. Developers are rethinking their plans to build condos on the beach and still more developers are contacting the city nearly every day. The need for affordable and senior housing continues to be great.

All these issues were supposed to be sorted out when the city embarked on a comprehensive plan to develop Biloxi's roadmap to the future. In March 2007, the City Council chose a Philadelphia, Pa., firm with extensive experience working with coastal communities to draw the new comprehensive plan for Biloxi.

"We had to reject the bid," said Mayor A.J. Holloway. "It came in too high."

Instead of a total amount, the company bid in the $400,000 to $700,000 range. The Mississippi Development Authority, which is paying for the study, wants a specific price. Rather than getting started, the city has to rebid and begin the process again.

Here is a look at the big picture of where Biloxi is now and what challenges are ahead:

City government

"Every day something good happens," said Holloway. The community center hosted its first Mardi Gras ball over the weekend and projects are starting across the city. Among the most anticipated are the Biloxi Lighthouse Park and Visitors Center, the Popp's Ferry Road extension and the rebuilding of the piers and marinas.

"We have an industry that's hurting there," Holloway said, noting that several charter boats have gone out of business.

"A lot of these projects we hope to be under way quickly in '08," he said. Most of the city wells are still running on generator and the streets, sewers, water lines and storm drains that were damaged in the storm surge will be replaced.

Even as the city rebuilds, it needs to prepare for future development. Holloway said he met with D'Iberville officials to try to reach an out-of-court agreement on land both cities are trying to incorporate. They discussed a compromise that D'Iberville originally rejected but later said it would negotiate.

An east-west corridor through Harrison County will take a long time, said Holloway, although a committee met with the governor in December to try to get funding for an environmental assessment study, which is the first step. Another bridge across the Back Bay also is being studied.

BILOXI --Biloxi School District

Enrollment in East Biloxi elementary schools is still down, said Superintendent Dr. Paul Tisdale. Gorenflo is at half of its pre-Katrina numbers, Nichols at 60 percent and Lopez at 70 percent.

Only 700 of the 1,300 military dependents, most of whom lived at the base, have returned. The buildup will be gradual over the next 30 months as housing opens at Keesler.

Although North Bay Elementary is using 10 modular units in addition to the 40 classrooms, "We're not overcrowded," Tisdale said.

More students attended the school before the storm and the pupil to teacher ratio is about 17 to 1, "which is what it is in other classrooms throughout the district. Capacity is almost beside the point. We're looking at pupil/teacher ratio."

At some point, he said, "We will have to rezone our elementary schools," and bus some students south of the bay. The question is, "which students and to which elementary school?"

Some parents object to this because they don't want their children going to a different school but Tisdale said more of a concern is the time classes start. The schools operate on a rolling basis with one-third starting at 7:20 a.m., the next beginning at 8:10 and the North Bay classes starting at 8:40.

At Tuesday's meeting, the board will consider moving ninth-grade students to the high school campus, the seventh-grade students into the junior high and the sixth-graders out of the elementary schools and into the seventh-grade building.

Tisdale said the move would make room for pre-kindergarten classes that could be financed by casino revenue from Biloxi casinos under construction or proposed.

Although the district has 50 fewer teachers after the storm, he said none were laid off and students have continued to excel, with the high school named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Keesler Air Force Base

Col. Greg Touhill said the current mission of Keesler is to "rebuild the base, renew the community and reload the Air Force," training personnel for missions around the world.

He and Vice Commander Col. Richard Pierce did a walk-through on the first three of 1,028 homes that are being rebuilt as part of the largest military family housing project in the history of the Air Force.

A Division Street gate that would move some of the Keesler traffic off Beach Boulevard is still conceptual, Touhill said, and would require federal government financing.

Developers

Condo projects in Biloxi were approved last year but never built. Mike Boudreaux, president of Gulf Coast Investment Developers in Biloxi, said he is optimistic more of these projects will begin this year.

"Construction costs have come down. Insurance has come down. Labor costs have come down," which he said was the biggest expense after Katrina.

Several condo projects, including Sea Breeze and Aqua, were redesigned to smaller units in the 500- to 850-square-feet range that are more affordable. Originally priced at up to $600,000, the new units sell for around $350,000.

Several developers are considering building combination condotels and hotels, Boudreaux said, with traditional hotel rooms on the lower floors and condotel units above.

Community development

Director Jerry Creel said developers who were waiting for the FEMA flood elevations are beginning architectural drawings and have target dates to begin.

"We have a lot of development happening in Biloxi," and Creel said he has constant phone calls, e-mails and visits from developers.

Work is under way all over the city, with Dillards opening this spring at the Edgewater Mall and the Popp's Ferry and Cedar Lake roads intersection in North Biloxi a continued hot spot. Creel hopes East Biloxi will "develop into the resort destination that everyone has envisioned."

He also sees residential areas in East Biloxi, especially around Division Street where the ground is higher. Commercial developments like casinos and apartment buildings can comply with the more stringent flood elevations and building codes in the higher risk areas, he said.

Biloxi Housing Authority

Director Bobby Hensley said by late January, the Biloxi Housing Authority will have homes to sell. "This is the first time we've done home ownership units," he said and the properties in East Biloxi are between two and four bedrooms.

"We're trying to keep properties affordable for people," which makes development north on Interstate 10 difficult until central sewer and water is available. "We definitely will be building more senior housing," he said, possibly on land near the beach at U.S. 90 and Brody Drive.

The authority also is looking at housing along Main and Division streets.

Holloway said between the casino numbers, the billion dollars of building permits issued since the storm and the Biloxi Bay Bridge reopening all lanes in April, "this all tells the rest of the county that Biloxi is indeed coming back bigger and better."

Red UM Rebel
Jan 26, 2008, 7:37 PM
Agency head 'concerned' about diversion
By RYAN LaFONTAINE
rlafontaine@sunherald.com

GULFPORT --The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved a state plan Friday to spend $600 million in grants on the Port of Gulfport instead of housing.

Fair-housing advocates have been the loudest critics of the plan, and their concerns were backed this week by two congressional Democrats - U.S. Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif. - who urged HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson to oppose the plan.

But despite those cries, Jackson sent a letter to Gov. Haley Barbour on Friday approving the state's plan to divert the $600 million, initially earmarked for housing, to repair and expand the Port of Gulfport, the third-busiest container port along the Gulf of Mexico.

Frank and Waters sent a letter to Jackson on Thursday, citing a recent FEMA report that estimated more than 40,000 Mississippians remained displaced after the storm as of November 2007.

Opponents of the port spending say curing the state's profound housing crisis is a much more pressing need than upgrading the port.

The money is part of $5.5 billion in HUD Community Development Block Grants approved by Congress after Hurricane Katrina. The Mississippi Development Authority, which answers to Barbour, is charged with administering the grants.

The MDA disputes the claim that the money is being yanked from affordable-housing programs. Barbour has said the state's original request in 2005 for Katrina-relief funding through HUD included the port project, in addition to housing.

Barbour issued a statement Friday, saying he appreciated HUD's recognition; he said the port's restoration "has been a key component of Mississippi's comprehensive recovery plan since the fall of 2005."

The 210-acre expansion features a new shipping terminal and channel as well as three new casinos and as many as 3,000 hotel rooms.

In the letter from HUD, the federal housing secretary did express some qualms with the plan to move the money.

"I remain concerned that this expansion does indeed divert emergency federal funding from other more pressing recovery needs, most notably affordable housing," Jackson wrote to Barbour.

But Jackson said specific "congressional language" associated with the recovery grants gave him little choice but to approve the diversion.

Waters told The Associated Press on Friday she could not understand why Jackson believed he didn't have the authority to reject the plan.

"I am suspicious that Barbour receives favored treatment with this administration. He kind of gets his way," Waters said.

Jackson praised the state for reprogramming an additional $100 million this week to address the critical housing needs of low- and moderate-income households, but he urged Barbour to keep housing a priority for the Coast.

"I'm sure that you share my concern that there may still be significant unmet needs for affordable housing, and I strongly encourage you to prioritize Gulf Coast housing as you move forward," he wrote.

Red UM Rebel
Jan 27, 2008, 11:12 PM
I heard from a very reliable source today that the Bacaran might not be built. I have been searching for any news along those lines. Have you heard anything like that BLX?

Velastor
Jan 28, 2008, 1:45 AM
Umm...why would they not build the Bacaran? After all that money that has been spent and the investments made by those buying condos. The market is also growing. This is a very strange rumor.

Your best bet would be to contact the condo people and just pretend you interested in finding some info about them and if they stop you from doing so you will know whether or not they still plan to build the casino. They won't be able to sell you one if they aren't gonna build the resort.

BLX 101
Feb 2, 2008, 8:21 PM
Umm...why would they not build the Bacaran? After all that money that has been spent and the investments made by those buying condos. The market is also growing. This is a very strange rumor.

Your best bet would be to contact the condo people and just pretend you interested in finding some info about them and if they stop you from doing so you will know whether or not they still plan to build the casino. They won't be able to sell you one if they aren't gonna build the resort.


I agree 100%. Mr. Torguson has invested a lot of time and money into this project and has stated that he believes in the Biloxi market and is very committed to this project. Why would he have even waisted valuable time and efforts doing pre-construction site work and paying to have a lift station relocated? Red UM Rebel, I would question the reliability of your source. Coincidentally, which I personally don't believe neccessarily merit any thruth to that rumor, Palmer's Run, the golf course that is affiliated with the Bacaran Bay project, is scaling back from its original 27 holes to 18 holes. It is adjacent to the planned Belle la Vie subdivision in the Woolmarket area. This subdivision has also been proposed for some time.



Posted on Fri, Feb. 01, 2008
Entry-level housing
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com


WOOLMARKET -- Belle la Vie means "beautiful life," and developers hope to create that ideal in a community that combines a quality lifestyle and affordable prices.
Location is key for the Master Planned Community in Woolmarket, which will blend a variety of housing and recreational facilities like trails and neighborhood parks with professional, shopping and commercial development. They are also developing a neighboring golf community.

"We know we have a great location," said Phil Frisby, marketing director for the development that is three miles off Interstate 10, eight miles north of the beach and just south of new Mississippi 67. The community is within 15 minutes of 85 percent of the jobs that are projected and existing in the Biloxi/Gulfport area, "which is very important with the price of gas," he said.

James Frisby, president of Pitcher Point Investments, the owner and developer of Belle la Vie, said the community will help fill the need for housing after Hurricane Katrina.

"Our average elevation is 50 feet above sea level," out of surge and flood zone, said Phil Frisby, keeping insurance rates down.

The majority of the more than 2,000 homes will be entry-level housing priced from about $165,000 to $185,000 for a 1,500-square-foot home with three bedrooms, two and a half baths and a two-car garage.

"There is zero inventory of that type of housing," James Frisby said, and without homes the average family can afford, "we can't continue to grow."

Communities will be built in pods, with 16 single-family neighborhoods and 10 multi-family areas over the next five to 10 years. The variety of housing, including apartments, townhouses and condos up to million-dollar homes, will allow families to move to new housing but stay in the community as their incomes grown and needs change, the developers said.

Adjacent to Belle la Vie and being developed at the same time is Finistere, the Arnold Palmer signature golf course started before Katrina but never completed.

It will be redesigned from 27 holes to 18, said Jimmy Day, who spent four years as a site manager at another Palmer course, and 300 residential lots will be built around the course.

Pitcher Point is developing the communities and will donate the fire and police stations and code-enforcement office to the city of Biloxi. Contractors will buy a quantity of lots and build the homes.

James Frisby said the community will have 120 retail stores with "old town, downtown atmosphere. It will have every retail outlet that you need to live," with commercial on the first floor, office space above and third-floor flats for professional and retired people and couples. "It's really a kind of smart growth. It creates the kind of lifestyle that people want to live."



http://bellelaviebiloxi.com/locatormap.html



http://www.biloxi.ms.us/PDF/condostatus.pdf

BLX 101
Feb 2, 2008, 9:54 PM
The cover of the latest issue of Mississippi Newcomers & Visitors Guide features a redesigned Savannah Condominiums in Biloxi. You can also check it out at GCID's website.



http://www.gcid.biz/

Red UM Rebel
Feb 3, 2008, 5:45 PM
I agree 100%. Mr. Torguson has invested a lot of time and money into this project and has stated that he believes in the Biloxi market and is very committed to this project. Why would he have even waisted valuable time and efforts doing pre-construction site work and paying to have a lift station relocated? Red UM Rebel, I would question the reliability of your source. Coincidentally, which I personally don't believe neccessarily merit any thruth to that rumor, Palmer's Run, the golf course that is affiliated with the Bacaran Bay project, is scaling back from its original 27 holes to 18 holes. It is adjacent to the planned Belle la Vie subdivision in the Woolmarket area. This subdivision has also been proposed for some time.




I did question the reliability most certainly, and I agree with you. What the guy said is that with all the mortgage mess, Torguson lost a great deal of purchases of the condos, which is why the site work has come to a halt. I truly hope nothing has gone awry, but I am concerned because the guy is a gm of a casino and has a 1000 batting average.

Velastor
Feb 8, 2008, 2:22 PM
A developer's vision
N.O. company seeks casino zoning north and south of U.S. 90 in Biloxi


BILOXI --
RW Development is bullish on Biloxi, with the first South Beach tower going up on the beach near Rodenberg Avenue and now a mixed-use project - including a casino - heading to the Planning Commission for approval.

Using the working name of "Gold Coast" RW Development goes before the Planning Commission March 6 to ask for a zoning change for property on the east side of Veterans Avenue. Estimated to cost $700,000, this development would bring the New Orleans company's total investment in Biloxi to more than $1 billion.

Speaking for RW Development, Reed Guice said Thursday the casino would be on the site of the former Gus Stevens nightclub, north of U.S. 90. The general look of the project will be similar to RW's South Beach project under construction to the east.

The plans call for 1,680 hotel rooms and condotels, 100,000 square feet of casino space and a 1,400-seat entertainment venue. High-end shopping would be on the ground level along Veterans Avenue. Restaurants, meeting space and a spa would be incorporated into the casino development.

The city has funding to widen Veterans Avenue "to turn it into a beautiful boulevard," said Guice. The property is in the Convention Center Overlay District and would bring needed hotel rooms close to the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center, and Guice said it will be built well below the 110-foot flight path ceiling for Keesler Air Force Base.

"It's going to contribute millions of dollars to the local economy," he said.

The developers will ask for the land north and south of U.S. 90 to be rezoned waterfront. Guice said the property on the south side was originally zoned waterfront from 1993 to 2004 and the casino would be within 800 feet of the mean high water line as required by state law.

"We do not think this site will be as controversial as some others that have been proposed recently," he said.

"This is the old Biloxi Strip. This has always been a visitor-oriented place," Guice said. "Between 1993 and 2004 any casino that wished to be there could have applied for a gaming permit. RW simply wants to see it turn back to its original intent."

Executive Planner Edward Shambra said when Biloxi's Land Development Ordinance was drafted in 2003, "That's when we took another look," and changed the zoning of the whole strip of beachfront land in that area to B-3 business-hospitality.

RW Development has not just made promises, Guice said. "We can see their intent coming out of the ground already."

Red UM Rebel
Feb 8, 2008, 7:15 PM
:previous:

A picture to go along with story, thanks Velastor

http://media.sunherald.com/smedia/2008/02/08/06/141-Gold_Coast_Renderings1a.standalone.prod_affiliate.77.jpg

Source is Sun Herald

Velastor
Feb 8, 2008, 7:50 PM
I think this project will go forward for sure if it can get the approval of all the right boards. They have the money needed to ensure that this will be built. The design is very different because it looks more like a shopping center to me than a casino.

Red UM Rebel
Feb 8, 2008, 8:13 PM
I think at first no casino was planned, but the land as far as I can tell falls into the rules as a gambling site, and it would probably make much more money as a casino. It will be interesting to see if it gets built because I think that the final design will be much different than was posted.

Velastor
Feb 8, 2008, 10:32 PM
I like the current concept...its very different than the typical casinos. There is no big box hotel with a casino under or beside it.

BLX 101
Feb 8, 2008, 10:54 PM
There are two other photos at sunherald.com. The owner wants to create a mixed-use boulevard at Veterans Avenue, similar to Canal Street in New Orleans. Plans are to widen Veterans to four lanes from Beach Boulevard to Pass Road landscaped with tall palm trees along the sidewalks and the median. The project looks awesome but it will never get aproval for a casino. I'll tell you what is going to happen. As you know, this is a very sensitive and contested issue. I myself have mixed opinions but in the end would have to object. State representative Ishee from Gulfport, just before mayor Holloway vetoed the Tivoli proposal, stated that he would propose a bill that would prevent any future casinos north of the sand beach, which could cause a domino effect and put the entire twenty-six miles of sand beach at risk. There are other condo developers across from the sand beach that has gone on record wanting to incorporate casinos in their projects. The second of three towers at the Ocean Club Condominiums are suppose to be nearing completion at this time but it is on hold indefinitely awaiting the final result of the Tivoli Casino which is not completely dead yet. Mayor Holloway has stated numerous of times, "Not on my watch." And he was recently re-elected for a new term. Just this week, legislators passed a bill that would restrict future casinos to the counties where they are currently legal. I feel that this bill will be ammended to protect the sand beaches along the gulf coast. There are some who are sick of visiting this same issue and want to put an end to it once and for all. If the city could pick and limit sites north of the sand beach to two to three, without causing a domino effect, mayor Holloway would have approved the Tivoli Casino without hesitation. He has sworn to protect Biloxi's sand beach regardless of the amount of revenue the project would generate. One thing is for certain, there are exciting times along with growing pains in the next few months and years as Biloxi entertain the many proposals for its treasured waterfront.

Velastor
Feb 9, 2008, 12:57 AM
Ah...I had completely forgot that there was public beaches on the other side of what use to be an area full of gas stations and fast food joints. During all our old visits we just drove by and never noticed the beach because of all those buildings.

Red UM Rebel
Feb 9, 2008, 5:34 PM
I lived there and I forgot too. I think that is very good analysis BLX. It will be very interesting to watch indeed.

Red UM Rebel
Feb 9, 2008, 6:31 PM
There are two other photos at sunherald.com.

Source is Sun Herald



I agree with BLX that it probably won't get built, but I think it is a very neat concept, much like a boardwalk in Atlantic City or a Forum style shopping and gaming complex like Ceasars. I think it looks very cool.

Red UM Rebel
Feb 11, 2008, 4:13 AM
I did not realize that the land was already zoned for casino once. That might make it more possible.

Velastor
Feb 12, 2008, 5:03 AM
The mayor hinted today in his speech that he didn't want casinos taking over the city and that they should build in areas that the city wants them. I know the tivoli is the casino he was mentioning, but could it also be the new one just announced from RW?


Any more news about the Isle expansion plans being released to the public?


Will we ever hear any news about the Broadwater property?


Did anyone ever figure out if the Bacaran Bay will move forward with development?


Just a few questions to get some more chat going. :)

BLX 101
Feb 12, 2008, 7:22 PM
I did not realize that the land was already zoned for casino once. That might make it more possible.


Athough previously zoned waterfront, it was never zoned for casinos. This specific site once was home to a nightclub that was owned by Mr. Gus Stevens in which many Hollywood celebrity entertainers would visit and perform. The long time vacant building was eventually torn down to make way for Surf Style Souvenir around 2000. This entire area was known as Biloxi's entertainment district with a number of restaurants and strip clubs where illegal gaming took place. This is where the Dixie Mafia ran rampant until the murder of a former council woman and her husband (a sitting judge) in the 1980's in which a former Biloxi mayor is currently serving time with other mafia members in a federal prison in Angola, Louisiana. Biloxi has always had gaming though not legal until 1992.

BLX 101
Feb 12, 2008, 7:51 PM
The mayor hinted today in his speech that he didn't want casinos taking over the city and that they should build in areas that the city wants them. I know the tivoli is the casino he was mentioning, but could it also be the new one just announced from RW?


Any more news about the Isle expansion plans being released to the public?


Will we ever hear any news about the Broadwater property?


Did anyone ever figure out if the Bacaran Bay will move forward with development?


Just a few questions to get some more chat going. :)


Quiet so far, but I do anticipate the anouncement of several exciting projects this year to include the Broadwater Beach property, especially if it yields a third consecutive hurricane free season.

Red UM Rebel
Feb 13, 2008, 3:10 AM
Athough previously zoned waterfront, it was never zoned for casinos. This specific site once was home to a nightclub that was owned by Mr. Gus Stevens in which many Hollywood celebrity entertainers would visit and perform. The long time vacant building was eventually torn down to make way for Surf Style Souvenir around 2000. This entire area was known as Biloxi's entertainment district with a number of restaurants and strip clubs where illegal gaming took place. This is where the Dixie Mafia ran rampant until the murder of a former council woman and her husband (a sitting judge) in the 1980's in which a former Biloxi mayor is currently serving time with other mafia members in a federal prison in Angola, Louisiana. Biloxi has always had gaming though not legal until 1992.

We had just moved to the Coast when the Sherry murder happened. Not good times, I think this could show that the area is cleaned right?

pleasebiloxi
Feb 15, 2008, 7:10 AM
There are two other photos at sunherald.com. The owner wants to create a mixed-use boulevard at Veterans Avenue, similar to Canal Street in New Orleans. Plans are to widen Veterans to four lanes from Beach Boulevard to Pass Road landscaped with tall palm trees along the sidewalks and the median. The project looks awesome but it will never get aproval for a casino. I'll tell you what is going to happen. As you know, this is a very sensitive and contested issue. I myself have mixed opinions but in the end would have to object. State representative Ishee from Gulfport, just before mayor Holloway vetoed the Tivoli proposal, stated that he would propose a bill that would prevent any future casinos north of the sand beach, which could cause a domino effect and put the entire twenty-six miles of sand beach at risk. There are other condo developers across from the sand beach that has gone on record wanting to incorporate casinos in their projects. The second of three towers at the Ocean Club Condominiums are suppose to be nearing completion at this time but it is on hold indefinitely awaiting the final result of the Tivoli Casino which is not completely dead yet. Mayor Holloway has stated numerous of times, "Not on my watch." And he was recently re-elected for a new term. Just this week, legislators passed a bill that would restrict future casinos to the counties where they are currently legal. I feel that this bill will be ammended to protect the sand beaches along the gulf coast. There are some who are sick of visiting this same issue and want to put an end to it once and for all. If the city could pick and limit sites north of the sand beach to two to three, without causing a domino effect, mayor Holloway would have approved the Tivoli Casino without hesitation. He has sworn to protect Biloxi's sand beach regardless of the amount of revenue the project would generate. One thing is for certain, there are exciting times along with growing pains in the next few months and years as Biloxi entertain the many proposals for its treasured waterfront.


It is important to remember that this deal is very different from the Tivoli deal. All of the beach in Biloxi is public beach, but in the case of RW Development at Veterans Avenue, they own the land on the south side of 90 and plan on developing that as well. My understanding of Mayor Holloway's remarks after Tivoli and about casino expansion in general is that he did not want to make concessions to casino developers. They deal Haley Barbour made with congress after the storm said that, you had to have the land touching the water, which Tivoli did not have, but RW does. I believe this to be a legal gambling site. Also, RW is the only company that has come through on their developments. Everyone else has gotten their entitlements and either have chosen not to develop or cannot get financing. Biloxi city council would be foolish if they did not approve this. The mayor has said he wants the already zoned casino sites to develop before they add any more sites. Unfortunately, the broadwater and Bacaran Bay just aren't moving. Broadwater does not even have a developer actively trying to move on the property. I believe Bacaran Bay just doesn't have the financing and cannot sell their condos.

BLX 101
Feb 18, 2008, 9:42 PM
It is important to remember that this deal is very different from the Tivoli deal. All of the beach in Biloxi is public beach, but in the case of RW Development at Veterans Avenue, they own the land on the south side of 90 and plan on developing that as well. My understanding of Mayor Holloway's remarks after Tivoli and about casino expansion in general is that he did not want to make concessions to casino developers. They deal Haley Barbour made with congress after the storm said that, you had to have the land touching the water, which Tivoli did not have, but RW does. I believe this to be a legal gambling site. Also, RW is the only company that has come through on their developments. Everyone else has gotten their entitlements and either have chosen not to develop or cannot get financing. Biloxi city council would be foolish if they did not approve this. The mayor has said he wants the already zoned casino sites to develop before they add any more sites. Unfortunately, the broadwater and Bacaran Bay just aren't moving. Broadwater does not even have a developer actively trying to move on the property. I believe Bacaran Bay just doesn't have the financing and cannot sell their condos.


I respect your opinion; however, this deal is no different from the Tivoli project. Although RW owns land south of 90, he does not own the sand beach itself which is public. All of the casinos that has opt to build north of 90 own waterfront property with direct contact with water not sand. Yes, Mayor Holloway has said that there is plenty of waterfront property already zoned for casinos, but he is not saying that he will open up more land after it has all been developed. His stance is that he will envoke his power (veto) to derail any casino wanting to develop across from (North of) the public sand beach which would set a precedence leading to casinos on every available inch of the coast line that would ultimately lead to our demise. He has often stated that he wants Biloxi to be a city with casinos, not a casino city. I have to agree with him 100%. Although I personally like both the Tivoli and Gold Coast projects, as a property owner and tax paying citizen with a deep love for my city, I could never support any project that could set a bad precedent, ruining our treasured coast line. Just look at the insane runaway development that has taken place in Alabama and Florida.

Velastor
Feb 20, 2008, 6:06 PM
Fitzpatrick proposes new casino zoning district for casinos

BILOXI --
Councilman Mike Fitzpatrick wants the city to create a new WF-10 casino zoning district, and he suggests the city encourage developers to build casinos north of U.S. 90.

Fitzpatrick handed the sample draft and lists of problems and possible solutions to city council members at Tuesday's meeting, but didn't mention his plan to the public.

The WF-10 classification would require casino developers to have a minimum of 10 acres for the site to be considered for a casino.

This proposal follows the application of RW Development to build a casino north of U.S. 90 and east of Veterans Avenue. That proposal goes before the Biloxi Planning Commission March 6 and Fitzpatrick noted in his proposal, "RW is the first of many property owners (from Rodenberg to Treasure Bay) that will want to have their properties rezoned to WF in order to have a casino on the north side of Hwy. 90."

Velastor
Feb 20, 2008, 6:12 PM
Looks like Fitzpatrick is getting behind the RW project.

I'm also wondering, I know BLX was talking about casinos needed to be in direct contact with the water. Why wouldn't the condo that RW is already building being counted as contact. For example, Treasure Bay atm has nothing at all on the south side, even though the land they own touches the water, but what about Island View. They have the hotel on the south side but the port is between that property and the water isn't it.

I'm all for keeping casinos OFF the beach and keeping the beach public because it is a nightmare trying to view the beach from 90 in Alabama and Florida.




SideNote: I wish someone would finance BacaranBay instead of trying to build their own casinos.

BLX 101
Feb 20, 2008, 7:43 PM
Looks like Fitzpatrick is getting behind the RW project.

I'm also wondering, I know BLX was talking about casinos needed to be in direct contact with the water. Why wouldn't the condo that RW is already building being counted as contact. For example, Treasure Bay atm has nothing at all on the south side, even though the land they own touches the water, but what about Island View. They have the hotel on the south side but the port is between that property and the water isn't it.

I'm all for keeping casinos OFF the beach and keeping the beach public because it is a nightmare trying to view the beach from 90 in Alabama and Florida.


The current law states that a casino can be 800 feet within the mean watertide. One key stipulation is that the developers must control the land or property immediately adjacent to that watertide. In Harrison County, the sand beach belongs to and is maintained by the public. Developers can not have control over any inch of it. South Beach which is currently under construction by RW, is separated from the mean watertide by a wide stretch of public sand beach. Both Treasure Bay and Island View control land immediately adjacent to the mean watertide regardless of where part of the port lies. Gulfport did approved and rezoned the North property although it is not perfectly aligned to its south property. Mayor Holloway has vowed to protect Biloxi's public sand beach regardless of the dollar amount that it would generate for the local economy.

Western Spaghetti
Feb 20, 2008, 7:46 PM
quite allot of projects being developed down in the Gulf. Great to see. :tup:

BLX 101
Feb 21, 2008, 3:09 PM
My fear with the following proposal is the same as Mayor Holloway's, which is that if approved it will start a bad precedence, leading to ugly law suits, bad relationships and new casino growth all along the beach front that will never be contained. Biloxi currently have an excellent relationship with all of its casinos. I like the idea of having a casino district such as East Biloxi which includes the downtown central business district and back bay. I am okay with the two isolated waterfront properties of Treasure Bay and Broadwater Beach which were approved and developed as casino resorts pre Katrina. I feel that any additional casino developments along the beach front would have a negative effect such as unbearable traffic congestion and would help to destroy the natural ambiance of our historical coast line. Again, I am okay with a few scattered condo towers among the ancient oaks, not miles of concrete development which is what this proposal could lead to (greedy developers that could care less about the coast's natural beauty).


Posted on Thu, Feb. 21, 2008
Casino zoning district proposed
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com


BILOXI -- City Councilman Mike Fitzpatrick wants Biloxi to create a new waterfront-10 casino zoning district, and he suggests the city encourage developers to build casinos north of U.S. 90 to leave the beach open for the public.
Fitzpatrick handed a draft of his ordinance to City Council members at Tuesday's meeting, but didn't mention his plan to the public. The Sun Herald obtained a copy. It follows the application of RW Development to build a $700,000 casino resort north of U.S. 90, east of Veterans Avenue.

That application goes before the Planning Commission in March and Fitzpatrick said, "RW is the first of many property owners (from Rodenberg to Treasure Bay) that will want to have their properties rezoned to WF in order to have a casino on the north side of Highway 90.

"We need to have some kind of restrictions on the lot size of developments in the area from Rodenberg to Treasure Bay," Fitzpatrick said, "or we could have many small size lots of 2 to 5 acres coming for approval to the Planning Commission and to the council."

With a minimum of 10 acres for a casino, "The area from Rodenberg to Treasure Bay on the south side of the highway would now be zoned as WF-10 property and those land owners (or partners) could apply for a casino site and build on the north side of the highway."

Fitzpatrick said the city could attract "at least four major casinos for this area and they could build the much needed hotel rooms to support the expansion of the Convention Center."

Although it is also north of the highway, the proposed RW casino has somewhat different circumstances than the Tivoli casino site that was vetoed last year by Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway. The southern portion of the RW property was zoned waterfront before the city changed it to B-3 business-hospitality when the land ordinance was updated five years ago. There was also a strip of commercial development between the beach and 90 before the storm.

"I wouldn't discourage the city from carefully looking at the areas it wants to see gaming occur," said former Gaming Commissioner Len Blackwell. Whether a site is "legal" and "suitable" are two different concepts that he believes can be determined only by the Gaming Commission. There are other considerations besides the distance from the water that distinguish a legal site. He said the casino must have control of the water and where there is a public beach, "it's a problem."



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Draft of proposed WF-10 ordinance
RESOLUTION NO.

RESOLUTION INITIATING TEXT AMENDMENT TO LAND

DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCE PURSUANT TO SECTION 23-7-2, CODE OF ORDINANCES OF THE CITY OF BILOXI, MISSISSIPPI (1992) REGARDING A NEW WATERFRONT DISTRICT DESIGNATION

WHEREAS, pursuant to changes in both statutory requirements and regulatory requirements, property owners are now required or encouraged to incorporate substantial land based structures into their gaming projects, and are authorized to extend those gaming activities landward a significant but defined distance; and, WHEREAS, the City Council is considering adding an additional zoning district to be designated WF-10, which would require a master plan project to incorporate a minimum of ten acres for gaming to be a conditional use at that site;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BILOXI, MISSISSIPPI, AS FOLLOWS:

Pursuant to Section 23-7-2, Code of Ordinances of the City of Biloxi, Mississippi (1992), the staff of the Planning Office is hereby charged with the task of following the procedure mandated by said section, which includes holding a public hearing before the Planning Commission and subsequently submitting a Planning Commission recommendation to the City

Council regarding the proposed addition of a WF-10 Zoning District, which would require a project to incorporate a minimum of ten acres to be eligible to apply for gaming as a conditional use at that site

- COUNCILMAN MIKE FITZPATRICK

BLX 101
Feb 21, 2008, 4:25 PM
Posted on Thu, Feb. 21, 2008
Casinos stay strong
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com


-- The Coast casino market shows signs of leveling off from record post-Katrina gains but bucked the national trend by remaining strong in January.
However, casinos in the Mississippi River counties posted much lower numbers that brought the state's January revenues down more than 8 percent from January 2007. That compares to a 10 percent drop in New Jersey, a 17 percent decrease in Illinois and losses in most other states in January. Louisiana had a small gain for the month.

"Actually the numbers for gross gaming revenue are no surprise," said Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission. "The economy is experiencing a downturn and the casino industry is not an exception. Hopefully, as the economy begins to improve, the revenues will increase as well."

The 11 Coast casinos had combined gaming revenue of $107.6 million in January, an increase of almost $4.5 million over December 2007 and nearly $1 million more than January 2007.

The Mississippi Tax Commission figures show the January record was $118.8 million in 2005. That was the best month of the year cut short by Hurricane Katrina.

Mississippi River casinos had a record January in 2006, when Coast casinos were still closed after the storm, earning $159.6 million. That dropped to $139.8 million for January 2007 and $118 million in January 2008.

"The river county properties are mainly a drive-in market," said Gregory, "and the rising cost of fuel is undoubtedly a contributing factor."

Officials in Colorado and Illinois blamed newly enacted smoking bans at the casinos in those states for part of the decline.

Snowbirds have traditionally helped make January one of the stronger months at Coast casinos. The eight Biloxi casinos reported $80.4 million revenue for January, meaning the Coast's other three casinos - Island View Casino in Gulfport, Hollywood Bay St. Louis and Silver Slipper Casino - won a combined total of $27.6 million for the month.

BLX 101
Feb 23, 2008, 12:40 AM
As I've stated in a previous post, this is the year that records will be set in Biloxi and the surrounding areas in regards to the unveilling of new projects and construction. That includes major hotel chains such as Marriott, Hilton and the Hyatt; restaurants such as Red Lobster and Olive Garden; shopping centers that includes Macy's, Target, Kohls, Marshalls, Best Buy and a new and much larger Sam's Club (a newly expanded Dillard's will reopen at Edgewater mall next Saturday); more casinos, condos, multiple and single family residents and houses of worship. There will be about a dozen or more new schools to break ground this year to include two four-year universities (USM-Gulf Coast and William Carey University at Tradition). Tulane University which has a satellite campus in Edgewater mall, is also actively shopping for property. The coastline will resemble Dubai with more construction cranes at one time than at any other time in its history. These are truly exciting times on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. William Carey University at Tradition is slated to begin construction in mid March with the opening of the first phase August 2009. An Eleven-story Crown Plaza--Holliday Inn and a Seven-story Hilton Garden both will soon be breaking ground near the RW South Beach condo which is now under construction. The beautiful newly expanded Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport just held its grand opening and construction at the convention center is well underway. Both have or will be doubling in size and are already planning for additional expansions within the next five years. A.J. (Holloway) has said that they are in talks with casino developers everyday; I think that we will soon find out who they are.


Revelay May Add Hotel To Its Biloxi Condo Resort

Posted: Feb 22, 2008 02:56 PM CST

Updated: Feb 22, 2008 04:26 PM CST

The Revelay condominium resort next to the coliseum may also include a hotel. And WLOX News has been told the hotel announcement could come in a couple of weeks.

What we're being told is the hotel that may be part of the Revelay project is a major name in the industry. It would be another piece to a puzzle that ultimately supports the convention center expansion next door.

The convention center is currently being renovated. But as it's getting its facelift, it is being leased out to groups. That's why the garden and patio show is there this weekend. That event proves what Bill Holmes firmly believes.

"People want to come to this destination," he said.

That's why Holmes contends the area around the Mississippi Coast Coliseum will become a hotel mecca -- sooner rather than later.

"I don't see rooms for the convention center being a problem two, three years down the road," Holmes said.

The next hotel project may be built on the Coliseum's southeast parking lot, if a Senate bill that allows the coliseum commission to lease that area is approved.

"We do have a developer that wishes to locate a 500 plus room flag hotel on the property if we can get that legislation passed," said Holmes. That bill is SB2236.

Another hotel option is at the Revelay site adjacent to the coliseum. What was originally announced as a 412 unit condominium development is now being modified to include a major hotel. The hotel idea first came up about 45 days ago. Mike Boudreaux is a Revelay consultant.

"Doing a true hotel on this site adds greater opportunity to that development," he thought.

Revelay executive Michael McNeil says the idea of combining the condo resort with a hotel should prove that his company is "definitely committed to the coast."

For the vendors who attend shows at the convention center, any new hotel rooms near the property are welcome. Hilda Breland is one of those vendors. Her hotel is in Gulfport. So, every morning, she has to fight Highway 90 construction to get to the coliseum's convention center.

"It's just a lot more convenient if it was here, closer," she said.

According to Boudreaux, "Out of all the hotel and motel units that were wiped out post Katrina, the reality is you've got to do something to bring about something in a pure hotel mentality. And Revelay is going to address that."

When Revelay developers had their groundbreaking last October, they said the condominium was 70 percent pre-sold. Now that the project is being scaled back, the company admits it laid off sales people. McNeil said specific details about a hotel, and condominium construction could be available in a few weeks.

By Brad Kessie

BLX 101
Feb 23, 2008, 12:58 AM
Sorry; my computer froze.

BLX 101
Feb 23, 2008, 1:08 AM
Sorry; my computer froze.

BLX 101
Feb 23, 2008, 12:49 PM
The following article recently appeared in a travel magazine that is viewed by over a million people.



BudgetTravel.com
Biloxi, Alive and Thriving
While this Mississippi city will never forget Hurricane Katrina, its residents are ready to embrace a bright, shiny future.

J.D. Biersdorfer
March 2008 issue
Tuesday, February 19, 2008;



Flip through a rack of postcards in any Biloxi, Miss., gift shop, and along with images of magnolia trees and sunsets, you're likely to find a few satellite shots of Hurricane Katrina looming over the Gulf Coast. "Why not?" asks a store clerk downtown. "We lived it."

While New Orleans has caught most of the nation's attention, Biloxi has also been busy getting back on its feet. The city has been pumping state and federal reconstruction funds into tourism infrastructure and aggressively encouraging private development. It seems to be working: The Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport now has more direct flights than it did three years ago, before Katrina.

Highway 90 shoots directly to the center of town, passing miles of white-sand beaches and the cast-metal Biloxi lighthouse. The Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum was destroyed in the hurricane, but a new building near the lighthouse is under way. In the meantime, the museum's pair of 65-foot replica oyster schooners, which survived the storm, are once again offering afternoon and sunset cruises. The original ships sailed the waters off Biloxi in the early 1900s, earning the city a reputation as the shrimp and oyster capital of the world.

Shrimp is still plentiful today, especially in the gumbo served (and sold by the gallon) at Mary Mahoney's Old French House. "We got hammered by Katrina," says owner Bob Mahoney, son of the late Mary. "Our dining room was flooded with five feet of water." That didn't stop the popular restaurant (John Grisham and Denzel Washington are among its fans) from reopening within three months. The walls are again packed with antique oil paintings and vintage snapshots, and the $14 lunch special still comes with Mary's bread pudding in rum sauce.

Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, whose wife grew up in Gulfport, Miss., has a new restaurant at the Island View Casino Resort. Just about everything on the Creole-inspired menu at Emeril's Gulf Coast Fish House is from the region, including the crispy Gulf oysters and the quail stuffed with boudin. The dining room has views of Cat Island and Ship Island, but the best seats might be the ones inside the 4,000-bottle wine tower.

Across from Mary Mahoney's looms one of the city's newest additions: the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi, which was originally set to debut the day the hurricane hit. With its metallic purple windows and towering guitar sign, the Hard Rock joins several new and rebuilt casino hotels on Beach Boulevard. Before Katrina, state law required casinos to operate offshore on barges; as a result, all 13 of Biloxi's casinos were severely damaged. The law now allows casinos to be on land (as long as they're within 800 feet of the shore), which has led to a boom in development. The 32-story Beau Rivage Resort & Casino was one of the first to reopen, with a new golf course that weaves through pecan orchards.

The city has also spiffed up a few museums post-Katrina. The Beauvoir Jefferson Davis Presidential Library and Home reopens in June, on the 200th anniversary of the Confederate president's birth. Over the past two years, the museum's antebellum mansion has been restored and furnished with period pieces. The library, Hayes Cottage (where Davis once hosted Oscar Wilde), and barracks are next on the list.

A five-minute drive east is the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art, which was in the middle of a $16 million redesign by Frank Gehry when Katrina dropped a casino barge onto the building, forcing contractors to start over. In December, the museum finally completed the first phase of the project with the unveiling of the George Ohr Pavilion. The tulip-like gallery, composed of four interconnected metal pods, will display hundreds of ceramic sculptures by the late George E. Ohr, the self-proclaimed Mad Potter of Biloxi. "When Gehry toured our grounds, he fell in love with the live oaks and wanted to create a museum that 'dances with the trees,'" says museum president Larry Clark.

In another sign of progress, the Biloxi Bay Bridge--connecting downtown Biloxi to the neighborhood of Ocean Springs--finally reopened in October. Ocean Springs is home to several live-music bars that are once again hopping. "Every day, I see the area coming back more and more," says Ronnie Hamilton, the manager of the Julep Room Lounge. Just last month, in fact, Hamilton got his first busload of blues-seeking visitors--as sure a sign as any that Biloxi is bouncing back.

Lodging


Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Biloxi 777 Beach Blvd., 228/374-7625, hardrockbiloxi.com, from $99


Beau Rivage Resort & Casino 875 Beach Blvd., 228/386-7111, beaurivage.com, from $129

Food


Mary Mahoney's Old French House 110 Rue Magnolia St., 228/374-0163, marymahoneys.com, gumbo $8


Emeril's Gulf Coast Fish House 3300 W. Beach Blvd., 228/314-1515, emerils.com, oysters $12

Activities


Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum 228/435-6320, maritimemuseum.org, cruise $25


Beauvoir Jefferson Davis Presidential Library and Home 2244 Beach Blvd., 228/388-4400, beauvoir.org, $8


Ohr-O'Keefe Museum of Art 1596 Glenn Swetman St., 228/374-5547, georgeohr.org, free

Nightlife


Julep Room Lounge 1217 Washington Ave., 228/875-9928, no cover

ajfroggie
Feb 25, 2008, 2:57 AM
You mention Target 4 posts ago. They've talked about a Target on the Coast for so long, it's to the point where I'll believe it when I see a completed, opened store, and not a moment beforehand.

Fortunately for me, I'm within driving range of the Target in Slidell, but most of my coworkers in Gulfport don't have that luxury.

BLX 101
Feb 25, 2008, 4:18 PM
You mention Target 4 posts ago. They've talked about a Target on the Coast for so long, it's to the point where I'll believe it when I see a completed, opened store, and not a moment beforehand.

Fortunately for me, I'm within driving range of the Target in Slidell, but most of my coworkers in Gulfport don't have that luxury.


I understand your skepticism. Target and Best Buy was about to make a presence on the coast before Katrina hit (hence the delay). Best Buy immediately opened what is still a temporary location on US 49 to aid in the recovery of Katrina. By mid 2009, you can expect two major shopping centers on the coast that will both be anchored by Target; one in Gulfport at the far Eastern end of a new widened Dedeaux Road and Hwy 605, the other at the intersection of I-10 and I-110/Hwy 67/Hwy 15 in D'Iberville which has already received approval for setback variances (from the city) for Target signs. The complex is to be called D'Iberville Marketplace Shopping Center. It is going to be built in the Northwest corner of the intersection on a new Western extention of Sangani Boulevard across from Super Wal-Mart. I personally contacted the D'Iberville Travel Lodge Hotel which confirmed that they will soon be closing and demolished to make way for the new extended boulevard. The developers are acquiring the last of the needed acreage and plan to start construction soon with the first phase opening in spring 2009 and phase two by August 2009. You can look for Kohls, Best Buy and other new national retails and restaurants to be part of this project. Just a few more notes regarding retail on the Mississippi Coast: 1) In yesterdays SunHerald under recent permits issued, you'll find a new and larger $11.7 million Sam's Club that includes a gas station at the Northwest corner of I-10 and US 49. 2) Prime Outlets Mall is adding new stores every month. According to Pam Meizner-- the manager, some of the stores such as BCBG MAXAZRIA are among their companies best performing stores. Other newly opened stores are Disney, Ann Taylor, Jones New York and Fitz and Floyd. Expect for them to announce an expansion of the mall soon. 3) Don't be surprise if you here of an announcement of a Macy's coming to the coast. Mississippi is one of only four states in the nation and one of only two in the South that does not have a Macy's department store. 4) The Shops at Magaritaville with 250,000sf of retail coming in early 2010 by the largest retail developers in the nation. I also know of other major retail developments but those are the projects that will come to fruition in the near future.

Red UM Rebel
Feb 26, 2008, 12:57 AM
I I personally contacted the D'Iberville Travel Lodge Hotel which confirmed that they will soon be closing and demolished to make way for the new extended boulevard. .......................... 4) The Shops at Magaritaville with 250,000sf of retail coming in early 2010 by the largest retail developers in the nation. I also know of other major retail developments but those are the projects that will come to fruition in the near future.

NOT THE D'IBERVILLE TRAVEL LODGE HOTEL!!! NO



The shops at the Margaritaville are going to be managed by Simon Malls, the largest mall company in North America, they run the Forum Shops at Caesars in LV

BLX 101
Feb 29, 2008, 6:56 PM
You mention Target 4 posts ago. They've talked about a Target on the Coast for so long, it's to the point where I'll believe it when I see a completed, opened store, and not a moment beforehand.

Fortunately for me, I'm within driving range of the Target in Slidell, but most of my coworkers in Gulfport don't have that luxury.


According to this weeks weekly issue of The Biloxi-D'Iberville Press, Richard Rose (D'Iberville's city manager) said that the city will sign an official contract with Target any day now to bring the national retail chain store to the Northwest corner of I-10 and I-110, and that he expects ground-breaking to take place within the next few weeks. He said that on February 20th, the city took the final step, other than signing the contract, in approving the tax increment financing (TIF) plan that will allow the city to reimburse Target (over a period of twenty years) for fronting the bill for needed improvements to public infrastructure , namely a new five-lane boulevard. The store's opening is scheduled for Spring 2009.

BLX 101
Feb 29, 2008, 7:06 PM
Posted on Fri, Feb. 29, 2008
Countdown to D-Day
By TAMMY SMITH
tmsmith@sunherald.com


BILOXI -- The wait will end Saturday morning for the Dillard's faithful.
At 10 a.m., the 180,000-square-foot, two-story store at Edgewater Mall will hold its soft opening. The grand reopening will be Wednesday with a 9:45 a.m. ribbon-cutting. Special events are scheduled at the store Wednesday through March 9.

"Dillard's is very excited to be back in such a great community. We can't wait to see our past customers and welcome new customers as well," said store manager Julie Fox.

Coast Dillard's shoppers had to go out of town for more than two years after Katrina for their fix of private-label products, including shoes, women's fashions and housewares.

But now the women's shoe department boasts tables of Gianni Bini, Alex Marie and Antonio Melani footwear, as well as BCBGirls, Donald J. Pliner, Kenneth Cole, Michael by Michael Kors and Jessica Simpson.

Nearby, the cosmetics and fragrance departments are stocked with popular labels such as Estée Lauder and Lancôme, plus Erno Laszlo, Clarins, Pur Minerals, Fusion Beauty and Strivectin.

Lingerie shoppers will enjoy the store's dressing area.

"We have a primo fitting area here," Fox said, opening the door to a spacious seating area with several fitting rooms to the side. A doorbell with each room allows the shopper to call a salesperson for assistance, such as getting another size item.

"There is nothing self-serve about our lingerie department," she said.

The men's department holds sportswear by Polo Ralph Lauren, Daniel Cremieux, Calvin Klein and Perry Ellis, and Hart Schaffner Marx, Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein Premium suits hang nearby.

Junior fashions are on the first floor, and misses', petites' and women's departments are upstairs. Feature designers include Antonio Melani, Gianni Bini, Lilly Pulitzer, Nygard Collection, Lauren Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, French Connection and Frankie B., as well as Maggie London, Tahari and Adrianna Papell.

Children's fashions are also upstairs, as well as the housewares and linens departments. A rainbow of Kitchen-Aid classic mixers was on one display, and a collection of chocolate-brown and pink Paula Deen tableware was nearby.

Frances Lamas of Biloxi was helping set up displays in the housewares department.

She began working with Gayfers in 1973 in Biloxi and continued with Dillard's after it bought the company.

"I worked the Saturday before the storm," she said.

Katrina mangled the store two days later, but for Lamas, leaving the area for another store was not an option.

"I didn't feel like I wanted to go anywhere else," she said.

BLX 101
Mar 2, 2008, 11:42 AM
I visited the store yesterday on its soft opening, which was my birthday. It is a first-class, top of the line Dillard's store. There were a lot of shoppers exploring the new digs and layout. What's next, is for the outparcel national restaurants such as O'Charley's, Red Lobster, Olive Garden and Ruby Tuesday to return. A fifth department store (Macy's) would be a sweet addition to the beach front retail property also.


Dillard's Prepares To Open In Biloxi

Posted: Feb 29, 2008 11:08 PM CST

Updated: March 1, 2008 03:54 PM CST

Store Manager Julie Fox is proud to show off her sparkling new Biloxi store. She admits she's eager to greet customers.

"I think when they come in they're going to be shocked to see how exciting, how innovative and how beautiful this store is. I think they're expecting big, but I don't think they're expecting this big."

She knows people in South Mississippi have been waiting two and half years to walk through these doors again.

"I know the community is excited. We've heard so much feed back from the community, the mall. I just know it's a great thing for us to come back."

Her staff was busy putting the final touches on the displays, unpacking and placing the last of the merchandise before shoppers arrive. Many employees worked at the beach front store before Katrina.

Carlos Guerra is one who's happy to be back. He's been working at the Dillard's in Mobile since the storm, and says he saw a lot of Mississippi customers while he was there.

"It seemed like it was everyday that somebody would bring up once, they knew I was from the store here, they'd say, 'oh when is it going to open? When's the date?' "

There was much anticipation about the return of the popular department store, but Guerra says he always knew it would come back to Biloxi.

"When I heard the construction was starting, that's it. We knew we were on. There was a lot of rumors and things, but that was all false. Obviously, we that worked here knew we were coming back; it was just a matter of time."

Now, there's only a little precious time left for these employees to prepare for the big opening, but Fox is confident they'll be ready.

"A little bit of shine here and there. We just want it to be perfect for the community when they come in tomorrow."

The store has a soft opening Saturday at 10am. The grand opening is Wednesday with special events scheduled through March 9th.

by Meggan Gray

Red UM Rebel
Mar 3, 2008, 9:19 PM
By RYAN LaFONTAINE
rlafontaine@sunherald.com

GULFPORT --The first shovel-load of dirt was moved Monday, officially launching construction of a new, 650,000-square-foot Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport.

The area's congressional delegation, local leaders and members of the U. S. General Services Administration attended the ground-breaking ceremony on the beachfront site.

"I love my job, but I don't care much for living in Washington, D.C.," U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor told the crowd. "So when veterans write me to say they want to come home, believe me I understand."

The home will replace the old 11-story building that was imploded last year. The building will be large enough to hold up to 584 residents and each room will feature a balcony view of the Gulf.

"The minute we cut the ribbon on this thing, come home," Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr told the veterans in the crowd and those who will watch the ceremony on television at the AFRH in D.C.

http://media.sunherald.com/smedia/2008/03/03/11/241-0304AFRHP11.slideshow_main.prod_affiliate.77.jpg

http://www.sunherald.com/185/story/407888.html

BLX 101
Mar 3, 2008, 10:55 PM
Today's ground breaking of the Armed Forces Retirement Home is yet another sign that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is indeed coming back bigger and better than ever before. I made a trip to the Biloxi VA Medical Center today and was pleasingly surprise by what I found. The entire complex is undergoing a complete multi million dollar exterior/interior face-lift and it's looking amazing. The construction of the expanded out-patient pharmacy and ER is nearing completion. A new parking garage for the recently expanded Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport and the 400,000sf convention center should soon erupt out of the ground. This year will set a record for ground breaking here on the coast. Next up is Sam's Club and the Target shopping complex, a number of national hotel chains, condos and casinos, and educational institutions. Biloxi is set to break ground on its Lighthouse Park and visitors center and the new downtown multi-purpose complex (mini convention/community center) which will also house the new public library. Within a year, the new Hwy 67 should be opened completely with unrestricted access from East Biloxi to Tradition and Hwy 49. The re-population of New Orleans is on the rise and has recently exceeded 300,000. Pre- Katrina numbers were greater than 450,000; immediately following Katrina the numbers were less than 200,000. The Greater New Orleans Metro population is still above one million, down from 1.3 million. The New Orleans Arena has been sold out for the last four to five Hornets home games. I am hopefully optimistic that Six Flags Inc. can see the potentials in the future of this market and that they will soon announce a vigorous campaign to rebuild a second-to-none first-class park that will rival any of their other parks. New Orleans is listed as one of four most unique US cities. The other three are as follows: San Antonio, Baltimore and San Francisco. I believe that both New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast will rise as a major international tourism region.

BLX 101
Mar 4, 2008, 12:32 AM
RW Development Ready To Pitch A Biloxi Casino

Posted: March 3, 2008 05:52 PM CST

Updated: March 3, 2008 06:12 PM CST




The executives at RW Development say a casino proposal they'll present to Biloxi's Planning Commission on Thursday is nothing like the contentious Tivoli issue.

RW's plan is to build a casino resort at Veterans Avenue and Highway 90. The southern tip of that project would be up against the public sand beach. However, the company claims that what makes this different is the commercial land it owns south of the highway. Because that land is at the mean high tide, RW believes its in a legal casino zone.

The Gold Coast Resort would be the latest investment made by RW Development in the Biloxi strip. It's South Beach condominium is out of the ground. And a Veterans Place development with apartments and shops could be built north of the tracks in three months. It turns out, those projects could be considered RW Development's appetizer.

"We have saved the best for last," executive vice president Granville Smith told the WLOX Editorial Board.

Smith's casino resort concept would be built at the foot of Veterans Avenue and Highway 90.

"What we think is the gaming component will become the economic engine that will allow us to finance and develop a project of this scale," the son-in-law of former New Orleans Hornets owner Ray Wooldridge said.

But to build a casino on the old Biloxi strip, RW Development needs a zoning change. The company contends that since this area had commercial businesses south of Highway 90 before Katrina, and because this area was once a waterfront zone, the Gold Coast casino should be approved.

Mike Cavanaugh is RW Development's attorney.

"This is not a thought. This is not a maybe, sort of. This is a real deal, real developer, real money, real opportunity," Cavanaugh said.

Years before Wooldridge invested in Biloxi properties, he reached out to south Mississippi business owners to support a much different venture. Wooldridge was part of the ownership group that brought the Hornets basketball team to New Orleans. And he wanted south Mississippians to buy some season tickets. Now, Wooldridge and his team are trying to convince many of those same people that bringing a casino to Biloxi's strip is a similar slam dunk decision.

"This development as we've planned it is a no brainer," said Smith.

The Biloxi Planning Commission will hear RW's zoning change request, and its Gold Coast casino presentation on Thursday.

One of the graphics that will be shown at the meeting focuses on the tax revenue RW Development projects could generate for Biloxi. The combination of the South Beach condominium, a hotel across the street, the Veterans Place project with apartments and shops on the north end of Veterans, and the Gold Coast casino, the projection is that Biloxi and its schools could get more than $24 million a year in taxes.

By Brad Kessie

BLX 101
Mar 5, 2008, 7:08 PM
I plan on attending tomorrow's planning commission meeting. There are a number of items that are on the agenda such as The Gold Coast Casino Resort, a North Bay condominium project, a downtown live jazz club and a request to amend the plans for the previously approved Avalon Condominium. The California owners have now decided to build an eleven story 216 room hotel instead of the 114 condo units, under the same name. Also the IP is seeking a change in both zoning and their onshore gaming master plan.

Velastor
Mar 6, 2008, 1:21 AM
Wow, lots on the agenda....have fun and take lots of notes :D.

Also, this was posted on Sunherald.com and since you work for the Isle Blx you probably already know this.


Isle of Capri has new CEO and big plans for Biloxi


BILOXI --
Isle of Capri Casinos announced today that Jim Perry has been named CEO of the company and that planning for Phase I of a master plan for its Biloxi casino is nearly complete.

Perry is one of three former employees of Argosy Gaming and Trump Entertainment who recently joined Isle of Capri. The others are President and COO Virginia McDowell and Chief Financial Officer Dale Black.

Former CEO Bernard Goldstein remains with the company as chairman of the board.

Expansion of the Isle of Capri in Biloxi will be one of the company's first major projects. Those plans were put put on hold last year while Isle officials re-evaluated the Biloxi market post Hurricane Katrina.

The company reported a $13.8 million loss from continuing operations for the third quarter of fiscal 2008 compared to an $8.9 million loss in the third quarter of fiscal 2007.

Velastor
Mar 6, 2008, 1:21 AM
About Avalon, I think a hotel would be much better than a condo honestly.

BLX 101
Mar 6, 2008, 3:51 AM
About Avalon, I think a hotel would be much better than a condo honestly.


I think that the Avalon and its location would be great as a hotel. Though I must admit that I was looking forward to the first up-scale condo development to be built in the immediate downtown area. Hopefully the Harbor Point and City Place will come to fruition. The reconstruction of the Biloxi small craft harbor is progressing. There is a photo link on the city's website. Other hotel names to look out for is the Marriott, Hilton, Crown Plaza and possibly the Hyatt at or near the coast convention center. Two properties that would be an excellent aquisition for the Marriott chain are the 13-story Santa Maria tower and the White House Hotel as a Rennaisance. The following is a link for the White House restoration.


http://www.whitehouseonthegulf.com/wh_vision1.html

BLX 101
Mar 6, 2008, 7:04 PM
Posted on Thu, Mar. 06, 2008
Isle's longtime CEO retiring
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com


BILOXI -- "The Father of Riverboat Gambling," who opened the first Mississippi casino in Biloxi 15 years ago, is stepping aside as chief executive officer of Isle of Capri Casinos.
Bernard Goldstein remains with the company as chairman of the board. He said during an earnings conference call Wednesday that the appointment of Jim Perry as chief executive officer is "good news for the company as well as me personally."

Goldstein formed the Isle of Capri company after 40 years in the scrap metal business. "I enjoyed watching the company grow," he said. The Isle of Capri now operates 19 casinos, including in Biloxi, Lula and Natchez, and moved its headquarters from Biloxi to St. Louis after Hurricane Katrina.

Perry became a board member last year and takes over as CEO Monday. He is one of three former employees of Argosy Gaming and Trump Entertainment who recently joined the Isle of Capri. The others are President and COO Virginia McDowell and Chief Financial Officer Dale Black.

The company reported a $13.8 million loss from continuing operations for the three months ending Jan. 27 compared to an $8.9 million loss in the same quarter a year ago. Officials said third quarter earnings in Biloxi were lower than they expected and the opening of two lanes of the Biloxi Bay Bridge in November didn't provide the additional traffic they had expected.

Expansion of the Isle of Capri in Biloxi will be one of the company's first major projects under Perry. The original plans were put on hold last year while the company re-evaluated the post-Katrina Biloxi market. McDowell said she expects plans for phase one of the master plan to go to their board in April and be announced to the public sometime after that.

She previously said the company wants to develop and implement a master plan, "which will help ensure that our product will remain competitive in the market." The company plans $40 million in capital expenditures for the next fiscal year and with the planning and permit process, it will be the second half of the year before construction can begin.

BLX 101
Mar 6, 2008, 7:33 PM
The Mssissippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center will soon be getting an on-site hotel. Bill Holmes the director, recently stated that they have been contacted by several national hotel chains wanting to build a convention hotel that would be connected to the 400,000sf center.


Posted on Thu, Mar. 06, 2008
Coliseum land-lease bill approved
By MICHAEL NEWSOM
mmnewsom@sunherald.com


JACKSON -- The Legislature has approved a bill that would allow the Mississippi Coast Coliseum to lease or exchange its surplus properties, as officials hope to attract a hotel to the site so the area has a better shot of landing big conventions.
The bill was passed in the Senate last week, and Wednesday, the House approved it. Now the bill goes to Gov. Haley Barbour for his signature.

Sen. Tommy Gollott, R-Biloxi, who pushed the bill with several other South Mississippi legislators, told the Sun Herald last week that Coliseum officials had asked for the legislation. Coliseum officials said they hope to lure a hotel to the southeast corner of the property near the intersection of U.S. 90 and Beauvoir Road.

Local tourism officials have pointed to a lack of hotel space after Hurricane Katrina as one of the main reasons the area struggles to attract conventions, which bring revenue into the local economy.

BLX 101
Mar 7, 2008, 7:37 PM
The design team for the Gold Coast Casino Resort is Dale/Morris of Biloxi. They, as you know are the architects of Bayview Casino Resort, Bacaran Bay, Casablanca and Vieux Crescente.


http://www.wlox.com/global/story.asp?s=7979283

http://www.dale-morris.com/


Biloxi Planning Commission Approves RW Development

Posted: March 6, 2008 10:19 PM CST

Updated: March 7, 2008 09:54 AM CST

Don Culpepper Updates RW Development Projects In Biloxi



BILOXI (WLOX) -- Back in the 1960s, the Biloxi Strip - located between Rodenburg and Veterans Avenues - had a little something for everyone, even if it wasn't all legal.

"That sign says two bands, floor show, and $1.50 buffet," RW Development attorney Mike Cavanaugh said. "I can assure you there was non-regulatory compliant gaming going on in this building."

"That was the strip," RW Development spokesperson Reed Guice said. "That is where the entire nation came for entertainment."

And Guice believes the future Biloxi Strip could be even greater.

"When you combine all of the projects that RW Development has - South Beach is coming up out of the ground, Veterans Avenue back north of the railroad tracks where they're going to have over a thousand work force housing units, along with retail and hotels as well. And then when you add this project, yes, you're getting close to $2 billion in investment."

Their latest project is the Gold Coast Casino Resort. RW representatives went before the Biloxi Planning Commission Thursday to request a series of zoning changes needed to move the project forward.

"This is an area where a casino should be," Guice said. "The city fathers wanted a casino there in the first place in 1993."

Maybe that's one reason why, after much support and little opposition was voiced, the planning commission overwhelming approved the project. But it still needs the approval of the city and the state.

"We hope the city fathers will agree. And when we go to Jackson, that the gaming commission, I know, will give us a fair hearing, and we look forward to what they have to say," Guice said. "To think that that area can be the strip again is pretty exciting."

Also at Thursday's meeting, the commission approved a rezoning request for IP Casino Resort. It opens the door for the casino's eventual move onto dry land south of its present location.

BLX 101
Mar 8, 2008, 11:15 AM
This doesn't sound good, but hopefully Torguson will work out a new lease with the property owners; we can hope.


Posted on Sat, Mar. 08, 2008
Bacaran Bay lease terminated
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com


BILOXI -- Bacaran Bay Casino this week lost its lease to build on 9.29 acres between Caillavet Street and Interstate 110.
According to documents filed Monday with the Chancery Clerk of Harrison County, the lease with MFT Casino and Torguson Gaming Group was terminated by Caillavet Street Development Group on March 3. This lease was dated Aug. 1, 2007, and amended the original lease signed in October 2004.

A financing company, Firegame LLC, holds a mortgage with MFT Casino and has until March 21 to assume the lease.

Marlin Torguson, CEO of Torguson Gaming, did not return calls for comment.

Torguson, founder of the Casino Magic properties, had planned to build the $500 million Bacaran Bay Casino before Katrina. The resort was to have a hotel and condos, two wedding chapels, a bowling alley, a movie theater and six restaurants, plus shopping, nightclub and convention space.

When construction costs jumped after the storm, the resort was scaled back and redesigned and the price went up to $600 million.

In September 2007, Torguson said drainage, sewage and other pre-construction work were under way at the site and groundbreaking was expected before the end of the year.

Caillavet Street Development is owned by the Gollott, Rhodes, Ainsworth and Swetman families, Bob Porter and Donald Bailus. Caillavet Street is anchored to the north by IP Casino resort and on the south by the Beau Rivage; Bacaran Bay was to link the Back Bay and U.S. 90 casinos.

pleasebiloxi
Mar 8, 2008, 4:59 PM
In my opinion Bacaran Bay is done. If they thought they could still build this project they would have extended the lease while they still had it under contract. They know that they cannot sell any of their condos, which they would use the money form that to get financing for the project. Plus, they have no competitive advantages compared to Margaritaville or Gold Coast if they get approved. Who would want a condo next to the highway when you could have one on the beach for almost the same price? I think if they were going to rework the lease they would have done it while they were under contract. Now the financing company has the right to come in an assume the lease. If not, the site is basically just another waterfront site with no one to develop it.

pleasebiloxi
Mar 8, 2008, 5:03 PM
This is a great reason to support thr Gold Coast development. They are the only ones, other than margaritaville that have actually began developing like they said they would. I know these deals are complicated, but it seems like a lot of these developers, (Bacaran Bay, Venezia, Bienville ect..) come in and just float ideas and get entitlements and don't do anything. I think Gold Coast has the best chance of happening compared to any other developments that have been proposed on the beach, other than South Beach, which is also RW Development

kensportsresort
Mar 15, 2008, 2:19 PM
I am looking to build and develop the first ever sports resort in the world in Biloxi, I need ffed back from you guys, my email is ken10291980@yahoo.com. Also let me how I can get funding for this project and what I have to do. It is going to have three casinos, three hotels, mall, 2 five star restaurant, 4 clubs, 1 huge sports bar and lounge.

kensportsresort
Mar 15, 2008, 3:35 PM
PROJECT COMPONENTS



• Main Arena
26,000 seats
• Action Sports Arena
10,000 seats
• Swim & Dive Center
5,000 seats
• Three Multi Purpose Sports Venues
3,000 seats each
• Climate Controlled Driving Range
2,000 portable seats
• Shooting Range
2,000 portable seats
• Bowling Alley
2,000 portable seats
• Ice Rink
1,000 seats

• 200,000 sq. ft.
• 200 top international sports
product manufacturers will showcase and demonstrate their finest sports products.

Arena Football • Aerobics • Amateur Wrestling • Archery• Arm Wrestling • Badminton • Basketball • Billiards • BMX • Bodybuilding • Bowling • Boxing • Cheerleading • Croquet • Cycling • Darts • Diving • Equestrian • Extreme Sports • Fencing • Figure Skating • Flag Football • Frisbee • Gymnastics • Hackysack • Handball • Horseshoe • Ice Hockey • Ice Skating • Indoor Track & Field • Indoor Soccer • In-Line Skating • Indoor Triathlon • Ju-Jitsu • Judo • Karate • Jai-Alai • Lacrosse • Little League Baseball • Wrestling • Lumberjack Sports • Modern Pentathlon • Motor cross• Paddleball • Paint ball • Pro Wrestling • Racquetball • Rodeo • Roller Hockey • Roller Sports • Soccer • Shooting • Shuffleboard • Skateboarding • Skating • Softbal l• Speed Skating • Special Olympics • Squash • Swimming • Table Tennis Taekwond o• Tennis • Trampoline • Ultimate Fighting • Volleyball • Water Polo • Weightlifting



• 3 Five Star Restaurants
• 15 Fastfood Outlets
• Healthy Man's Buffet
• 24-Hour Coffee Shop
• Concession Stands for every Venue





• 100,000 sq. ft. Traditional Casino
• 50,000 sq. ft. Glass Enclosed “Smoke Free” Casino
• 3,500 Slot Machines
• 130 Gaming Tables
• High Stakes Gaming
• Private Casino Salons



• 500 Condominiums / Timeshare:
• Three Floor plans
• World-Class Amenities





• 20,000 Parking Spaces
• 4 Valet Stations



• Auto Shows
• Concerts
• Ice Shows
• Poker
• Monster Trucks
• Demolition Derby
• Roller Derby
• Beauty Contests
• Award Shows
• Much More




• Swimming
• Track & Field
• Archery
• Fencing
• Much More



• 100,000 sq. ft.
• Sports Equipment
• Sports Apparel
• Sports Footwear




• 3,956 Affordable rooms / 350 sq. ft.
each Price fixed at $89.00, 365
days a year
• 980 Luxury Suites / 700 sq. ft. each
Starting at $140.00 per night, subject to season, availability and event
• 216 Super Luxury / Hospitality Suites,
1,400 sq. ft. and up, each Starting at
$500.00 per night, subject to season, availability and even



• 750,000 sq. ft. Stand Alone Convention Space



• 10 Night Clubs
• Ultimate Party Blvd




Aerobics • Archery • Badminton • Basketball • Biking • Batting Cages • Billiards • BMX • Bodybuilding • Bowling • Bungee Jumping • Cheerleading • Croquet • Cycling • Driving Range • Darts • Hackysack • Horseshoes • Ice Skating • Golf Simulators • Ju-Jitsu • Judo • Karate • Nascar Simulators • F-16 Simulators • Mechanical Bull Riding • Paint Ball • Handball • Physical Education • Rock Climbing • Roller Sports • Shooting • Roller Hockey • Shuffleboard • Skateboarding • Skating •Soccer • Softball• Swimming • Table Tennis •Trampoline • Weightlifting



• Video Arcade
• Comedy/Theater
• Go-Cart Racing
• Laser Tag
• Movie Theater
• Minature Golf
• House Band
• Sports Bar
• Hot Body Contests
• Arts 7 Crafts
• Shooting Gallery
• Carnival Games
• Lounge Entertainment
• Magic Show/Puppet Show
• Much More

Red UM Rebel
Mar 16, 2008, 2:37 PM
After nearly 6+ years of promising a resort, the lot still sits empty. I have heard that one reason the lease was terminated was because there was no construction began before 2008. The owners of the lot as part of the lease was going to gain more revenue once a casino was operational. I think you will see the owners of the property now try to attract a different group (most likely a corporation) to the spot. As another forum person pointed out though, being that close to I-110 will be a very difficult sell.

pleasebiloxi
Mar 17, 2008, 8:00 PM
Ken,
Where do you plan on building this monstrous resort?

BLX 101
Mar 18, 2008, 3:15 PM
I am looking to build and develop the first ever sports resort in the world in Biloxi, I need ffed back from you guys, my email is ken10291980@yahoo.com. Also let me how I can get funding for this project and what I have to do. It is going to have three casinos, three hotels, mall, 2 five star restaurant, 4 clubs, 1 huge sports bar and lounge.


Kensportsresort I am not convinced that you are legit. However, I would suggest that any developer seeking to build a resort of any kind in Biloxi, speak with Mike Boudreaux the founder of Gulf Coast Investment Developers, Inc (GCID). He has had great success in walking many developers through each step of the permitting phase. I personally doubt that there is sufficient waterfront land available to build such a huge sports resort. The largest piece of undeveloped waterfront in Biloxi is in the Point (Cadet) overlooking the new Biloxi Bay Bridge. A portion of this land is where Onnam Entertainment had proposed to build the Havana Casino Resort. The city is in the first stages of expanding the newly Back Bay four lane boulevard that will connect this undeveloped property to I-110 and US 90. View Red UM Rebel's East Biloxi map on page 9 of this forum.


http://gcid.biz/

BLX 101
Mar 18, 2008, 3:57 PM
Posted on Tue, Mar. 18, 2008
Tivoli investor loses a pile on Bear Stearns
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com


BILOXI -- British billionaire Joseph Lewis could have built the Tivoli Casino in Biloxi with what he reportedly lost in the Bear Stearns collapse.
Lewis, 70, was the principle investor of the billion dollar Tivoli Casino proposed in East Biloxi last year. On Sept. 10, 2007, eight days before the Biloxi City Council approved the Tivoli Casino rezoning, Lewis became the major stockholder of Bear Stearns. He spent $860 million, paying an average of about $107 per share, and in December he invested $150 million more at about $118 per share.

On Monday, JP Morgan Chase purchased the Bear Sterns stock for $2 per share.

Financial experts said it was a run on the bank that forced the "fire sale" of Bear Stearns, as nervous investors demanded their money.

A very private man and self-made billionaire, Lewis, 70, was ranked 369 on the 2007 Forbes list of World's Richest People. He founded the Florida-based Tavistock Group that controls more than 170 companies in 15 countries with holdings in oil and gas, restaurants, manufacturing and other investments. Tavistock has teamed with golf greats Tiger Woods and Ernie Els to build a Florida golf community.

His portfolio doesn't include the Tivoli Casino, which he wanted to finance. After the Biloxi City Council voted to change the zoning to waterfront, Mayor A.J. Holloway vetoed the 4-3 vote and the council wasn't able to override his veto. The developers needed the waterfront zoning before they could ask the Mississippi Gaming Commission to rule whether the property north of U.S. 90 was a legal casino site.

Mike Boudreaux, president of Gulf Coast Investment Developers Inc., said at the time that Lewis saw the opportunity both in the Tivoli and what could be given back to the community after Hurricane Katrina.

Lewis "was and still is a very wealthy man," Boudreaux said Monday after Bear Stearns was sold.

The Tivoli Casino developers haven't announced what they intend to do with the large parcel of land and may be watching the outcome of RW Development's application to rezone land north of U.S. 90 for South Beach Resort & Casino. The Biloxi Planning Commission approved that project, and it now heads to the Biloxi City Council for a vote.

BLX 101
Mar 21, 2008, 10:20 AM
City Place is being marketed by a high profile Los Angeles (Memphis branch) and Baton Rouge investment firms.


http://www.cordarocompanies.com/includes/City_Place_Flyer.pdf


I fear that if the rezoning for the Gold Coast Casino passes, many of the other condo developers on the Strip (Rodenberg to Treasure Bay) will want to develop casinos. I feel that this would be a tragedy. Some of these proposals are beautiful projects without adding casinos. There must be a balance of development in Biloxi; meaning non casino hotels and condos. The following links are excellent examples of projects that are proposed for this area. An eleven story Crowne Plaza-Holiday Inn and a seven story Hilton Gardens are slated to begin construction this year near Rodenberg Ave.


http://www.bienvillecondos.com/

http://www.seasidebiloxi.com/seaside/

http://www.southbeachbiloxi.com/flash/

http://www.veneziabiloxi.com/

http://www.gulfcoastnews.com/GCNnewsNewCondosGCID.htm


Neither Aqua Resorts or Sterling Beach have their own independent sites. They are both listed under Gulf Coast Investment Developers, Inc.


http://gcid.biz/

BLX 101
Mar 21, 2008, 1:24 PM
Finally, an online rendering of the proposed Bayview Casino Resort. My property can be seen just over the pool deck.


Posted on Fri, Mar. 21, 2008
Quick approval: Bayview Casino will be built on Back Bay
By MARY PEREZ
meperez@sunherald.com


JACKSON -- The Mississippi Gaming Commission quickly approved the site plan Thursday for a new casino resort on Biloxi's Back Bay.
The developers told the Gaming Commission they hope to return with the building plans by summer, and Managing Director John Ed Ainsworth said they should break ground "certainly in 2008."

Bayview Casino will be built between Boomtown Casino to the west and the Old Brick House on Bayview Avenue and Braun Street. The resort will be developed in phases, with the casino and hotel on the south side of Bayview Avenue built first, followed by an undetermined project on the 2.4 acres between the street and the water.

Les McMackin, who formerly worked in the corporate office of Isle of Capri Casinos, will be managing and developing Bayview through Panther Gaming and Entertainment. He told the Gaming Commission the conceptual plans call for a $325 million resort with 70,000 square feet of casino space. "It's still very conceptual," he said, and ideas such as the rooftop swimming pool are likely to change once the project is value engineered.

The current plans call for 519 hotel rooms, 1,400 slot machines, 45 table games, four restaurants, a swimming pool and spa, shopping, an entertainment venue with 2,000 seats and a 25,000-square-foot meeting and banquet facility.

"These developers continue to express not just an interest in the Gulf Coast," said Gaming Commission Chairman Jerry St. Pé, "but are backing it up." The site approval carries a significant investment, he said, and shows the Coast market is still vibrant.

Commissioner John Hairston said Biloxi has improved Bayview Avenue, which is part of the casino loop in East Biloxi, and he feels this project is a logical step to link the casinos on the Back Bay with those along U.S. 90.

"This is a tough time right now to raise capital," he said. Once Bayview Casino puts together the financial backing to move forward, "one of the winners should be the Old Brick House," he said, because the adjacent casino resort will bring it back into the community.

Also at Thursday's meeting,IP Casino Resort in Biloxi was fined $25,000 for failing to report suspicious activity on the casino floor that was seen by the surveillance department.

John Payne, president of Harrah's Central District, said Margaritaville Casino in Biloxi is still expected to open in early 2010. Housing isn't a problem for the workers building the casino, but he said many more homes will be needed when it's time to start hiring thousands of workers for the new resort.

The Gaming Commission will come to the Coast for its next meeting, April 17 at 9 a.m. at Hard Rock Casino Biloxi.


http://www.sunherald.com/business/story/444776.html