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Velastor Sep 25, 2007 5:26 PM

From what I've read the Hard Rock is leasing the land between it and Beau atm and using it for parking. I think the owner of the land wanted to build a casino there, but I think the piece of land was too small for a legal casino site without adjacent land being part of the casino, so it would be good for the Hard Rock to possible purchase the land. I could be wrong though.

Didn't the Landry casino also want to build a massive 3k room hotel and the council told them it was a crazy idea?

Both D'Iberville casino are gonna be on the west side of I-110 so one of them buying land on the east side seems strange...

I don't think the city would allow a 40 story casino tower unless it was just an amazing looking building...isn't the Beau only 34ish stories tall. I always though the Palace was after the boutique style casino, small and very elegant. Unless they think the are gonna get a ton of people crossing the new Bay Bridge I think plans that large seem a little out of place atm. I think they should start smaller, but have it so they can expand those plans as needed.

If there is room on Cailavett street I think it would be a good spot for another casino. With the hopes of new shops and entertainment areas along that street it would be a nice area for those that enjoy walking.

I have a question though, atm how far along is the Margaritaville casino? Last time I was down in Biloxi they had started moving in some construction equipment in front of the Grand. I was hoping Harrah's would set up a site with a construction camera so we could keep track of the progress.

BLX 101 Sep 25, 2007 10:27 PM

D'Iberville Casinos
Posted on Tue, Sep. 25, 2007
D'Iberville hits casino jackpot

D'IBERVILLE -- The city of D'Iberville is about to hit the jackpot with two casinos ready to enter the game.
City Manager Richard Rose said both the Royal D'Iberville Casino and West D'Iberville Group filed applications with the Planning Commission late last week. Peter Simon, the developer of the West D'Iberville casino, has since asked that his application be held for a few weeks while he completes the final details.

The community will benefit from a redesigned interchange planned off Interstate 110, and improved roads, water and sewage before the casinos open. Rose said the city and all the major developers in D'Iberville - those planning multifamily housing, retail and casinos - met with the Mississippi Department of Transportation recently. "Everyone was there," he said, and working together.

The casinos will be built adjacent to each other on the Back Bay west of I-110, with the Royal D'Iberville centered between I-110 and the West D'Iberville development. Both already have the proper zoning from D'Iberville and site approval from the Mississippi Gaming Commission. The final steps are to get site approval from the city and financial approval from the Gaming Commission.

Mark Seymour Sr. of Seymour Engineering, who has worked for 12 years to get the Royal D'Iberville to this point, said he hopes to break ground by the end of the year or soon after. His site plans will be reviewed during a planning workshop Oct. 9. The Planning Commission hearing is Oct. 23, and the City Council gets the proposal Nov. 20.

Simon is scheduled to go before the Planning Commission Nov. 27 and City Council Dec. 18.

"I'm almost there," said Seymour, who was nearly ready to build when Katrina hit. He's optimistic that having the nearest casino to Interstate 10 and "the best protected site on the Gulf Coast" will be a winning hand. His plans call for a raised casino and a 400-room hotel tower atop a parking garage. The plans could change to satisfy the financial partners, but Seymour said, "I know I'm going to insist on the French market." He designed the open marketplace near the waterfront, with restaurants and shops upstairs. He also plans a marina and condotels.

Simon, a Las Vegas casino executive, has said he plans to build a $250 million project that will include a casino, meeting space and hotel rooms.

BLX 101 Sep 25, 2007 11:35 PM

Hardrock Expansion
Yes, Hardrock has done extremely well, emerging from bankrupcy and paying all debt owed, since their opening. If Hardock expands, it will have to be to the north because I've known that Al Copeland has had this property tied-up since Katrina. He has owned the nearby property that was formerly the Bombay Bicycle Club for years. His original plans was to build his signature Copeland's restaurant but couldn't get the neccessary variances that were required. Whenever I got the cravings for Copeland's, I would go to Bombay for the blackened seafood pasta with a delicious creamy white sauce over bow-tie pasta. Before Al decided to put it up for sale, Bombay's menu offered a few of Copeland's signature dishes. Al was actively seeking a casino site in Biloxi years before Katrina struck. Immediately after the storm, he took his property off the market because he saw a potential casino site with the damaged Wind Jammer (where he himself owned one of the condo units). He has since bought the adjacent Hancock bank (that is relocating to Rhodes Flooring America property at the corner of Howard Ave. and Caillavett) which is across the street from the water front Wind Jammer property. Al is determined to develope a casino. I have been eagerly awaiting the plans to see if it will work.

Copeland holding out in Windjammer sale
Restaurant developer wants to open casino

BILOXI - The majority of condominium owners at the Windjammer are asking a judge to force three holdouts to sell their interests to California developers who have proposed squeezing a casino resort onto the 1.5-acre site.

The California developers, Wilton-Henson Associates, have offered $25 million for the waterfront property between Beau Rivage and the Hard Rock casinos. Their contract gives them the "sole and absolute discretion" to terminate the agreement and be refunded their deposit during a 90-day feasibility period.

One of the holdouts is restaurant and real estate developer Al Copeland, who also aims to use the property for a casino resort. He owns two units and is buying two others. Copeland also owns acreage directly across U.S. 90 from the Windjammer. He contends it is impossible for anyone to develop a casino resort and condominium on 1.5 acres.

The other holdouts are Bobbie Skrmetta and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co., which also tried to buy the property.

"What this really boils down to is nobody can put a casino development there but me," Copeland said.

If he acquired the Windjammer and added it to what he already owns, he said he would have about a five-acre footprint. Copeland said he has also offered the condominium owners $25 million. Wilton-Henson Associates gave the condominium developers the option of taking their share of the $25 million or a 1,900-square-foot replacement unit and marina slip.

Density limitations set by the city of Biloxi and infrastructure required by the Mississippi Gaming Commission would prevent a casino resort and condominium development from going on 1.5 acres, said Michael Cavanaugh, Copeland's lawyer. Generally, casinos in Biloxi have had a footprint of six acres or more.

Copeland has bought additional parcels around the old Bombay Bicycle Club property, which he has owned for years. Copeland founded the Popeye's chain, then acquired Church's and later sold them. He still supplies the restaurants through another business he owns and receives royalties for the use of his recipes. The restaurant brands he owns include Copeland's of New Orleans, Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro and Sweet Fire and Ice. In addition he owns the Improv Comedy Clubs and three hotels.

BLX 101 Sep 26, 2007 1:51 AM

Biloxi Discussion Topics

Originally Posted by Red UM Rebel (Post 3073352)

Ok, so some discussion topics on Biloxi:

Do you think the Landry's Group will return to Biloxi and try another pitch at a Golden Nugget Biloxi. I went to the board meeting when they originally pitched the idea, and it was cool, but they really wanted the city to give them a bargain purchase on the land, which no offense, but the designs were not that great. Even if this Tivoli project does fall through (at least at its current site) there are plenty of other spaces up and down for a Golden Nugget to be placed.

Does anyone think another casino will built on Cailavett street south of the Bacaran. Although there is not a huge tract of land, there is still some there that fits the bill for waterfront property.

I have a friend that works at the Palace and he said there are rumblings about a new hotel. They say it could be up to forty stories and provide up to 100,000 sq. feet of gaming. Does anyone think that this is even realistic?

BLX, you commented that the Havana Project might come back like a pheonix, but what happened there in the first place. The original casino, although very cool looking, was not terribly ambitious. They seemed to have all their ducks in a row, and then you never heard about the project again. I contacted someone at Yates Construction saying I was doing a piece about construction, and they told me the ones putting together that project just stopped updating them one day.

Although I have lots more questions that we will get to eventually, the final thing to think about is the eventual expansion of the Hard Rock. Supposedly it is already doing better than originally projected, and i was wondering if that project will expand any time in the next five years. I believe they own all of that land directly between the current casino and the Beau. Hopefully they will eventually put in a tower there.

Not sure about Landry Group but if they decided to re-enter, they would have to build on back bay. As you've stated before, any casino seeking to enter the Biloxi market would have to be a major player. Anything less than five hundred thousand dollars would not be able to compete. Every existing Biloxi casino has purchased additional property and is updating their master plans to include more upgrades and amenities.

In my opinion, if anything is developed south of Bacaran Bay, it would most likely be a condo project and definitely not forty stories which isn't allowed because it is within Keesler's air space. The Broadwater property and far east Biloxi is out of their air space. Forty stories have already been approved for the Broadwater property, and the Vieux Crescente although slated for thirty stories, will be taller than both the Beau and IP. I believe eventually a forty-plus story tower will be approved for east Biloxi as the Grand, Ilse and Palace are all outside Keesler's air space. The Palace's expansion plans have been public knowledge; a second hotel tower (though no specifics has been given) and a land based casino expansion was approved early 2006.

Regarding the Havana, after reading a tourism article, I spoke with Stephen Richer (Harrison County tourism Commissioner) who has some inside knowledge about the project. He felt pretty positive about the development. I guess they are regrouping like everyone else. The fact that the city of Biloxi still has it listed on their updated condo, casino and new residential subdivision development site, is a positive sign. It was updated last September 17, 2007.

Red UM Rebel Sep 26, 2007 5:11 AM

I am still going to hold out for the Palace becoming a huge player. They have run the casino right, and I believe they have the opportunity and leadership to pull something out fantastic. Have any of you guys seen their new golf course (I am not sure if it is "theirs" but I know they are significant investors) The Preserve, it is amazing.

The Onnam group is the ones developing the Havana, and as I said, the original plans for 18 story hotel (although incredible looking) are not going to hold up against an amazing a 25+ story Back Bay Resort (I hope they change the name and BLX if you can find a photo of it I would be forever greatful), Bacaran at 20+, so on and so forth.

I still think that it is way too optimistic to think that Wynn is coming into our market, not that we should not be hopeful, but he has reinvested so much with his Encore in LV and his resort in Macau that Biloxi is probably not on his radar. The Beau Rivage lost soo much money originally too that I do not even know if Biloxi left him with a good taste in his mouth.

It will be interesting to see how the market develops though. Copeland's place will be a pipedream too I am afraid. It would be difficult to build something of any signficance on that small tract of land, and needs to be given over to the HRC so they can start expansion plans. (Yea, they are doing that good). And I really hope the IP continues to do well and becomes the largest resort on the coast.

I think it will be interesting to see the design plans for the Vieux with a casino. I loved the lines of the condos, and it is only logical that they expand.

BLX, Velastor, anyone else: whats the timeline of announced resorts or anything else:


Bacaran Bay: Starts construction in December 2007 - January 2008 and is completed by December 2009 - May 2010.

Margaritaville: Construction under way and is completed May 2010

Isle of Capri: Reevaluating expansion plans (They might introduce new theme or line because it would hard to pull off their current theme next to Margaritaville) and is completed (100000+ sq. feet casino, six to eight restaurants) May 09

Boomtown: Announce expansion plans by Spring 08 (including possible hotel and onshore move) and construction complete November 10 - May 11

Grand: Eventual change into Horseshoe (possible Ceasars) May 10 construction or change complete May 12 - November 2012.

IP: Large addition plans announced May 09 and construction complete November 11 - May 2012.

Other projects: Back Bay Resort, Havana, Vieux Cresente, Tivoli, Casablanca, Lady Luck Site, Windjammer site, MGM Mirage expansion across Highway 90, Broadwater Casino, Palace Expansion, 2 D'iberville casinos (One being $250 mill which isn't huge), and Choctaw casino in Jackson

In other news:

Edgewater Mall goes on the market
Many shops didn't know it was up for sale


Edgewater Mall on U.S. 90 in Biloxi will be sold soon.Edgewater Mall may be changing owners for the first time in more than 40 years. The property has been for sale for over a month, though many tenants didn't know it was on the market.

The mall's management company, Jim Wilson & Associates, confirmed the property went on the market in the last 45 to 60 days. Representatives referred other questions to the mall's owner since 1965, American National Insurance Co., or to the brokerage listing the property, Colliers Turley Martin Tucker, a division of Colliers International.

Phone calls to both American National and Colliers were not returned.

Of the tenants contacted, most had heard little or nothing about the sale.

"I've just hear little rumors," said Pat Gill of The Epitome.

Gill has operated his cigar store in Edgewater Mall for 36 years. He said the sale might be good for some tenants.

"My first thought was a little new blood and new investment" might be a good thing, he said. "The location is one of the best in the world. It has potential."

Colliers' Web site markets the property as presenting "significant opportunities for a new owner to capitalize on the strength of the trade area to add to the profitability of the center through conversion of existing below-market rate leases and the extraordinary redevelopment potential within the food court and outlots along Beach Boulevard."

Gill said if the new owners invest in improving the property first and then increase rates over a few years, the improvements might be worth the higher rent.

Velastor Sep 27, 2007 12:01 AM

What ever happened to the Foxwoods Biloxi casino? I know it fizzeled out but why did that happen.

Didn't the Lady Luck sit beside the Grand when it was in operation? All I really remember of that casino was the Dragon that came up out of the water.

Most of your timelines seems right, except I hope the Ip announces their plans sooner than May 09.

I know Harrah's stated they won't do any work on the Grand site of the road until everything on the south side of US 90 is finished.

I think the Isle needs to form a partnership with Harrah's because onces Margaritaville is finished it would be nice to see Casino Row reborn in some fashion.

From what I've heard and read the Beau doesn't plan to expand till it is required...that means no hotel rooms vacant and a casino floor with no room to move around on.

I loved Treasure Bay's ship, it was always cool to see it floating out there. They have removed that theme and it seems to me they are like a mini-palace casino. Similar theme, very upscale, but small. They dont have much room to expand except back across the road.

Boomtown really does need to add a hotel to their property, they are losing so much money having people sleep in other places.

The Island View is working on Phase 3...The old hotel south of 90. I'm not sure of their plans, but I know it involves that building.

The Hollywood casino seems to be so far out there away from the otherrs, I have heard little or nothing on this casino since it opened back up. So if they are planning something I haven't heard of it.

And lastly the SilverSlipper is suppose to be adding a hotel soon from what I've heard.

I think thats just about all the casinos and what I know of their expansion plans and what not that we may not have talked about already, along with some random stuff that came up in my head while I was typing this.

There are a few renderings of the new planned Choctaw casino on the Videos on think the look similar to their resort in Pearl River. I believe they will name the casino somewhere along the lines of their other 2 casinos because one side of the hotel seems to have a circle inbedded into it.

Velastor Sep 27, 2007 4:57 AM

Good News for those traveling on US 90 because a grass lot is better than a lot with a blank slab...but seems to me like the city is over steeping its bounds though.

Biloxi Asks Hwy 90 Land Owners To Remove Broken Slabs

Biloxi is taking a more pro-active approach to cleaning up Beach Boulevard.

About three weeks ago, the city began sending out notices to property owners along Highway 90 that they need to remove their broken slabs and other unsightly structures.

The community development director says with the new bridge opening soon, Biloxi wants to make sure the area is attractive to visitors.

"We're trying to clean up Beach Boulevard. And if you go down Beach Boulevard, what do you see? You see pilings sticking out of the ground, steps that are still out of the ground that lead to nowhere, partial retaining walls, partial fences. And those things are actually an impediment to the property owners being able to get in there and mow their grass," Biloxi Community Development Director Jerry Creel said.

Creel says property owners need to realize, when they remove their slabs and pilings, their property will be much easier to maintain. He also says FEMA paying for most of the debris removal up to now has saved individual property owners a lot of money.

Red UM Rebel Oct 1, 2007 6:57 AM

Holloway vetoes Tivoli property rezoning
Council has 2 weeks to try to override it

BILOXI --Mayor A.J. Holloway drew a line in the sand Thursday when he vetoed the rezoning of the Tivoli property as a possible casino site, saying the sand beach is more valuable to the city than a billion-dollar casino.

The City Council now has 10 working days to try to override the veto. A resolution calling for the vote is not on Tuesday's agenda, said Clerk of Council Lucy Brashier, and if it isn't added to the agenda, a special meeting will have to be called.

"It's a difficult decision to veto a proposal that could have seen a billion-dollar-plus investment in our city, but this decision affects the entire city, and I must do what I believe is best for the city as a whole," Holloway said.

He gave four reasons for his veto. He believes the sand beach should define where casinos are relocated. Rezoning a casino site north of U.S. 90 would open a wide door he said "would expose this city to enormous pressure from property owners and developers seeking waterfront-zoning designations from one end of the front beach to the other."

He also thinks rezoning would provide Tivoli an unfair advantage over the casino developers who invested hundreds of millions of dollars in their Biloxi properties. And he thinks Tivoli doesn't fit with the city's long-range plan.

"My vision for the city encompasses an economically revitalized East Biloxi to balance the natural attraction we have always enjoyed with the sand beach," Holloway said.

Councilman Mike Fitzpatrick has been very vocal in his support of the Tivoli Casino and the taxes it would generate.

"It's a sad day for Biloxi," Fitzpatrick said.

Councilman George Lawrence was just as steady in his opposition to a casino on the Tivoli site in his ward.

"I just think it's the right thing to do," he said. "We need to protect the sand beach. We've got over 25 miles of waterfront zoning already."

The Council will need a two-thirds majority to override the veto, or five votes if all seven members are present. The Council doesn't have the needed votes, said Lawrence, because he, Tom Wall and David Fayard won't change their votes.

Biloxi Capital, owners of the Tivoli site, didn't return calls for comment. Among their choices if the veto stands are to sell or develop the 30-acre site without a casino or start the whole process over by applying to the Planning Commission for a zoning change, as the initial request came from the Council.

Holloway is the first to credit the casinos with saving the economy of Biloxi, but has remained consistent in his opposition to the expansion of gambling. Biloxi Public Affairs Manager Vincent Creel said on at least four other occasions Holloway has vetoed zoning changes for casinos he felt weren't in the best interest of Biloxi.

Red UM Rebel Oct 7, 2007 5:16 AM

South Beach rising
Biloxi OKs expansion; construction under way

BILOXI --An expanded South Beach Resort was approved Tuesday by the Biloxi City Council and the first condotel tower with 101 units now under construction should open late next summer.

"What makes us unique is we did not wait for pre-sales," said RW Development Executive Vice President H. Granville Smith Jr. "We've got the tower under way." South Beach is both the first new condotel project on the Biloxi beach since Hurricane Katrina and the area's largest non-casino resort.

The original design won city approval in 2006 and Smith returned to the Planning Commission and the council with even bigger plans. South Beach Resort will now have 650 condotels in five nine-story towers, all on the south side of U.S. 90 near Rodenberg. A 350-room hotel tower and parking garage will be built north of the highway and a public skytower will connect the projects over the highway.

"It is good to see a group like you come in, get approved and start building," Councilman George Lawrence told Smith. Lawrence also asked about traffic and parking. Smith said both a service road and South Beach Drive will run parallel to U.S. 90 to keep traffic flowing. Under the raised towers will be 260 parking spaces, and temporary surface parking will be provided until the parking garage on the north side is built. He envisions shuttles or valet parking to accommodate guests.

Councilman Charles Harrison said, "It works in association with the Coliseum expansion." Smith said the condos on the south side will be luxury accommodations while the hotel rooms will be geared to travelers and those attending meetings and events at the nearby Coast Coliseum and Convention Center.

In addition to the resort properties, RW Development plans to build housing, offices, shops and restaurants on Veterans Avenue between Pass Road and the railroad tracks. Smith told the council the company is hoping to break ground on the housing in the first quarter of 2008.

The construction costs for all the projects on all the land the company owns in Biloxi would exceed $1 billion, Smith later said.


Red UM Rebel Oct 7, 2007 5:22 AM

Hot corner
Development is booming around Popp's Ferry and Cedar Lake

BILOXI --Popp's Ferry Corners continues to be a development hot spot in the city; another shopping center and restaurant are on the way to the busy area near the intersection of Popp's Ferry and Cedar Lake roads.

The Biloxi Planning Commission gave its approval Thursday to the Cypress Lake Retail Center with 11,500 square feet of retail space and to the Grains of Montana restaurant. Both are owned by Cypress Lake Commercial and will be built on the southwest side of Popp's Ferry Road near Fayard's BP Station.

Biloxi Executive Planner Ed Shambra said the owners were justified in claiming a hardship when requesting variances for impervious surface coverage and landscape buffer. The property was divided when Cypress Lake Apartments were built on the rear section and the city acquired a chunk of the remaining land when Popp's Ferry Road was widened.

The board also approved a sign variance for The Shoppes at Nord du Lieu, now under construction on the northwest side of the street. The variance will allow one sign on Cedar Lake Road and another at the Popp's Ferry entrance.

Michael Saucier, president of Gulf States Real Estate Services, said about 70 percent of the shopping-center space is leased, with the first stores set to open by Thanksgiving and more just before Christmas. Smoothie King, Subway, Red Eye Grille, WOW Café, Fractured Prune and a spa and nail salon are signed, and the developer is now concentrating on leasing to general retail.

These projects must now go to the City Council for final approval.

A hearing on variances being requested to build The Bank nightclub and bar at 125 Lameuse St. was tabled until Oct. 18.

The City Council referred a proposal back to the Planning Commission this week for Briarfield Beach Cottages, a 21-unit condominium development on 1.07 acres at 157 Briarfield Ave. Residents complained it was too much development in too small an area. Shambra said the plans will go back to the Design and Review Committee to look at modifying the project and removing some of the variances.


Red UM Rebel Oct 7, 2007 5:43 AM

Harrah's announced that they are removing the Grand name from the resort in Tunica and making it Harrah's Tunica. I can only assume that they will rename the Grand in Biloxi either a Harrah's or Horseshoe.

Red UM Rebel Oct 10, 2007 3:40 PM

Poised For Takeoff
Coming soon

Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport officials and tenants continue to celebrate unprecedented growth with a milestone ceremony for a new cargo facility today and construction on a terminal expansion wrapping up by the end of the month.

The Gulfport-Biloxi Regional Airport Authority will celebrate the "topping out" of its new cargo facility at 1 p.m. today. The $10 million, 46,000-square-foot facility will offer 20,000 square feet of chilled space when it is complete in February.

The airport terminal is also undergoing a $50 million expansion, which should be complete within weeks. Millions of dollars more is being invested in improving the property.

"I think it's going to be a very positive next several years," said airport Executive Director Bruce Frallic. "That's what comes from investment."

The terminal expansion, designed to double terminal capacity to 2.4 million passengers a year, began in 2004. Since that time more than $300 million in investments have been made in and around the airport.

"All this investment is from both the private and public sector," said Frallic. "We are delighted the private sector is so deeply involved in what we are doing,"

Investments include $52 million for two hotels set to open in April and a $15 million business center, dubbed Reflections. Two nearby restaurants are in the planning stages.

Frallic said about $43 million in cargo and general aviation ramps construction should be complete in July.

"The airport is basically growing very fast in terms of physical facilities and airline service." he said. "Once the cargo and general aviation areas are open, those will grow very fast, also."

A $6 million rental car service center is scheduled for completion within a month.

A $15 million parking garage has been proposed to begin construction late this year. Plans call for a three-level garage with 800 spaces, doubling the total parking spaces available now.

Construction on a new $30 million, 175-foot tower, funded by the Federal Aviation Administration, is expected to begin in 2008. The tower should be complete in 2010.

The airport offers 10 nonstop destinations on seven commercial airlines. Officials hope to add more carriers soon.

The airport authority marked its 30th year in August. The airport was constructed in 1942 to train flight crews for WWII; it was transferred to the city of Gulfport in 1949. Biloxi and Gulfport formed the regional authority in 1977.

The $50 million terminal expansion will bring the following services to Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport:

• Seven jet gates and two ground-loading gates, with an eighth jet gate to be added in 2008.

• Two large new baggage conveyors with space for a third, in addition to original two conveyors.

• Expanded passenger screening area with multiple security lanes.

• New rental car reservation counters.

• New airline ticket counters with space for two more airlines.

• USO lounge for servicemen and women.

• VIP lounge to be constructed in 2008.

• New airside/landside gift shop, bookstore and four restaurant concessions.

• Two business centers with free Wi-Fi and work stations.

• Three covered vehicle lanes in front of the terminal.

• Three covered commercial ground-transportation lanes.


Red UM Rebel Oct 10, 2007 4:10 PM

Jackson County Casinos
I have not done a good job following the Jackson County Casino story. For those unfamiliar with it, the Choctaw tribe of Mississippi (The tribe that owns the two casinos in Philadelphia, Mississippi) is investigating putting a casino on Highway 57 in Jackson County on land that they own there. The reason I have not posted too much of the story on here is that I am under the impression that it is fairly unlikely that this casino will ever be built. Not only do the residents of Jackson County oppose the casino, but the governor has already said he does not plan to approve it and neither does the Department of the Interior. The Department of the Interior commented that it is very difficult for a tribe to build a casino that is "Off Reservation." It seems like a plow by the Choctaws to keep development away from Biloxi and Gulfport to avoid competing with their casinos in Philadelphia. After Katrina they saw a huge increase in profits, and they are losing those increases rapidly because of the booming market in Biloxi. I did want to post some pictures of the possible project that I got of Enjoy!

Red UM Rebel Oct 12, 2007 5:11 PM

Casinos leading the way
Coast's recovery all about casinos


BILOXI --The highway along the Mississippi Gulf Coast would be forlorn if not for the casinos, which are having their best year ever.

The devastation of Hurricane Katrina has proven to be little more than a temporary setback to the conversion of formerly sleepy beachfront communities into the Las Vegas of the Deep South.

Although affordable housing is scarce and businesses have trouble getting insurance coverage to rebuild since the storm, 11 casinos are open in Biloxi, Gulfport, Bay St. Louis and Lakeshore. Two are under or nearing construction and there's talk of more coming.

"A lot of businesses haven't reopened and aren't going to reopen," said Pat Probst, a security supervisor at Beau Rivage casino in Biloxi. "The casinos are probably the only thing that has kept our economy going."

On U.S. 90 there is not one working gasoline pump. Only a handful of non-casino restaurants have reopened.

Along a highway once known for stores hawking beachwear and souvenirs, only one outlet caters to tourists looking to lie on the white Gulf sands, a chief attraction before gambling began in 1992. The others have been demolished or are storm-shattered shells.

Gili Ovakanin, comptroller of Surf Style, said the summer season was slow. Still, he's not discouraged.

"We have a lot of faith in the city of Biloxi," he said. "We believe it's going to come back and be better than it was before."

The 12 casinos operating along the Coast two years ago were no match for Katrina. At the time state law required the gambling part of the resorts to be on barges in the water.

In a special session called quickly after the storm, the state Legislature voted to let coastal casinos build on shore.

"A lot of the casinos, more than half, said that if they had to come back on the water, they wouldn't have reopened," said Beverly Martin, executive director of the Mississippi Casino Operators Association. "It affected their insurance."

So far casino companies have spent $1.7 billion rebuilding along the Coast. And new projects are in store.

Harrah's Entertainment has started the largest post-Katrina project with its $700 million Margaritaville Casino & Resort scheduled to open in 2010 in Biloxi.

Torguson Gaming Group hopes to break ground later this year on its $600 million Bacaran Bay resort in Biloxi, projected to open in 2009, with a casino, 459-room hotel and 663 condominiums.

The casinos currently employ 17,000 people. About 70 percent of the 10,000 hotel rooms available on the Coast are at casino resorts. Each casino is averaging 5,000 visitors per day, matching pre-Katrina figures, Martin said.

According to the Mississippi State Tax Commission, coastal casinos took in $124.7 million in gambling revenue in July, up from $101.7 million in July 2005, the month before Katrina. For the first eight months of 2007, the casinos have won $887 million from gamblers, up from $863.5 million for the first eight months of 2004, the last full year before Katrina.

At that rate, the casinos are in line to better 2004, their best year ever, when gamblers left behind $1.23 billion.

Like their resort counterparts elsewhere, the Mississippi casinos are pushing non-gambling amenities such as golf courses, spas, restaurants and meeting and entertainment venues. Larry Gregory, executive director of the Mississippi Gaming Commission, said the split between gambling and non-gambling revenue for coastal casinos is about 65-35 percent and headed more toward the non-gambling side.

"I could see them becoming the Atlantic City of the South," said Andy Holtmann, editor of the Las Vegas-based Casino Journal, a trade publication. "There's a lot of other markets expanding, but the prospects for them are solid."

The next step will be to boost other tourist attractions.

There are 20 golf courses in the area. More than 70 events, many of them major entertainment acts, have been staged at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum this year. And the region hopes to attract a major theme park operator within the next five years.

"That will be attractive to families who come here to do gaming part of the time, but want to do more than that," Sanderson said.

There are signs that recovery for the rest of the Mississippi coastal economy is on the way, albeit not as quickly as casinos.

In an August report, the business council pointed to 30,000 building permits issued, a 61 percent increase in retail sales since 2004 and $343 million in planned military projects.

But the council said obtaining affordable property insurance remains a barrier to business and although there were 3,000 homes on the market in the region, the average $168,000 price "fails to meet the demand for affordable work force housing."

Katrina severely damaged or destroyed 70,000 homes in Mississippi, including at least 8,600 rental units.

Curt Chapman, a Biloxi insurance agent, said rates for wind coverage have increased about 90 percent for homeowners and 200 percent for businesses.

Housing initially was a scramble for the 3,800 employees of Beau Rivage, an MGM Mirage Inc. property that reopened exactly a year after the storm and a $550 million rebuilding project. Some employees have moved inland and others are commuting from nearby Alabama, said Mary Cracchiolo, the casino's spokeswoman.

The casino association's Martin said talks are under way for up to seven more casinos, probably two of which will come to fruition within three to five years. Casino Journal's Holtmann said there's probably enough market for three or four more over the next few years.

The market is nowhere near done, said Gregory, of the casino commission.

"There are too many people knocking on the door," he said.

Red UM Rebel Oct 15, 2007 8:28 PM

Airport Terminal Expansion Nearing Completion
Millions of Dollars Being Spent on Improvements Around Busy Airport


By Keith Burton - GCN 10/10/07

Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport officials and tenants are excited over a new cargo facility and the completion of the construction on the terminal expansion that should be finished by month's end.

Anyone flying in and out of the Gulfport/-Biloxi International Airport will note that construction on the new and expanded terminal is rapidly nearing completion. The airport overall has been undergoing a $50 million expansion that actually began prior to Hurricane Katrina, but was substantially setback by the hurricane when the existing work on the terminal was badly damaged.

In addition to the new terminal, there is a $10 million, 46,000-square foot cargo building that will offer 20,000 square feet of chilled space when it is opened in February.

The terminal expansion doubles the size of the busy airport, which is expected to be able to handle 2.4 million passengers a year.

Overall, the property around the airport is seeing more than $300 million in investments that include a new tower, two hotels, a business center, a new car rental center and several restaurants. There are also new cargo and general aviation ramps under construction.

Later this year, a $15 million parking garage will be built to double the parking space. Even with all of the construction, including some additional parking built since Katrina, finding a parking place at the airport often means driving around a bit and walking a healthy distance to the terminal. The new garage, when finished, should help reduce the parking problem for a while.

The airport offers 10 nonstop destinations on seven commercial airlines. Officials hope to add more carriers in the near future.

The $50 million terminal expansion will bring the following services to Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport:

• Seven jet gates and two ground-loading gates, with an eighth jet gate to be added in 2008.

• Larger baggage area with two new large baggage conveyors with space for a third, this is in addition to the original two conveyors.

• Expanded passenger screening area with multiple security lanes, as well as a more spacious terminal entry l lobby.

• New rental car reservation counters.

• New airline ticket counters with space for two more airlines.

• USO lounge for servicemen and women.

• VIP lounge to be constructed in 2008.

• New airside/landside gift shop, bookstore and four restaurant concessions.

• Two business centers with free Wi-Fi and work stations.

• Three covered vehicle lanes in front of the terminal.

• Three covered commercial ground-transportation lanes.

Even with all of the improvements at the airport, officials are already anticipating further expansions of the airport that will be needed for future traffic.

The airport was first constructed in 1942 to train flight crews for WWII; it was transferred to the city of Gulfport in 1949. Biloxi and Gulfport formed the regional authority in 1977.

Red UM Rebel Oct 15, 2007 8:31 PM

New Biloxi Ocean Springs Bridge Nears November Partial Opening

By Keith Burton - GCN 10/8/07

Contractors working on the new Biloxi-Ocean Springs bridge are on schedule to meet their November 1 partial opening. The road bed for the north lanes, which will open first, is complete across Back Bay and the south lanes are moving well ahead for the bridge's full opening in April.

The contractor on the $338.6 million ten lane bridge could actually open the bridge slightly ahead of schedule, but no change in the actual opening date has been announced.

GC Constructors, a joint venture of the firms Massman Construction Company, Kansas City, Missouri; Kiewit Southern Company, Peachtree City, Georgia; and Traylor Brothers, Inc.; Evansville, Indiana, is performing the work. The company also was charged with removing the old bridge.

The bridge remains with its sharp curve on its western side leading into Biloxi, but the curve was designed with a greater radius than the previous bridge. The bridge also rises from its much higher base to its full height of 95 feet, which is nearly 50 feet higher than the former bridge. Coast area economic development officials wanted a draw span on the new bridge, but Mississippi Department of Transportation officials decided that 95 feet would be enough to accommodate most vessels passing underneath.

The Bridge will have a total of six traffic lanes as well as pull-off lanes and a walkway for pedestrian and bike traffic when it is finished, but only two lanes are expected to open next initially.

Also, the bridge was designed with esthetics in mind. The bridge is being painted a color scheme that adds to the appearance of the bridge. There will also be decorative art on the bridge as well as decorative lighting.

While progress on the bridge has gone well since construction began, MDOT was initially criticized for the initial slow progress of getting a contractor and beginning the work on bridge, which is seen as among the most critical elements for the Coast's Katrina recovery.

A big bridge opening party is being planned for the event in November by the cities of Biloxi and Ocean Springs.

Harrison County county lost both of its key bridges on U.S. 90. from Katrina. The bridge on the west end of U.S. 90 to the city of Bay St. Louis opened partially this past May. It was was to be completely finished in November, but a change in the bridge lighting resulted in a two month delay.

(Pictures from GCN Also)

Bridge nearing partial completion

Former US 90 Bridge after Katrina

Red UM Rebel Oct 17, 2007 5:23 AM

Interesting Find
When I have some free time, I scour the web looking for different designs and plans. Right now my goal is to find a picture of either one of the D'Iberville developments or the Bayview Ventures original design. I was looking through an architects' profile, and I found this one on the Treasure Bay. It is dated 3 years ago, but anyone familiar with the market might enjoy this sketch. I wish the Treasure Bay would look so good!

Link To Page

Red UM Rebel Oct 22, 2007 5:04 AM

Land-based casino zoning sought in Biloxi


BILOXI --The city should align its zoning regulations with a state law passed in 2006 that allows casinos to move off the water and locate 800 feet inland for protection from storms, two representatives of developers told the Planning Commission on Thursday.

Attorney Michael Cavanaugh and property manager John Ed Ainsworth said the zoning would offer direction to landowners and potential developers.

"It's beneficial to us," said Ainsworth, who represents the Gollott and Weems families, owners of current and potential casino sites on the Mississippi Sound and Back Bay. "We think it's also beneficial to Biloxi."

Cavanaugh, who represents numerous casino developers, reviewed with commissioners a map that showed waterfront zones, where casinos are located, extended 800 feet inland from mean high tide.

Biloxi's casino zones don't take into account the change in law. Casino zoning follows the waterfront, with much of the surrounding property zoned residential and commercial. However, few if any property owners have built back in these areas overwhelmed by Katrina.

The city has been reviewing casino zoning proposals on an individual basis.

"We've had half a dozen of these since the storm," Cavanaugh said after the meeting. "Instead of doing the waterfront piecemeal, a block at a time, just redo the entire waterfront where it's already zoned (for casinos) at the water's edge."

The two stressed to commissioners that they are not proposing an expansion of current casino zones to include the sand beach, a contentious proposal recently nixed by Mayor A.J. Holloway for the old Tivoli Hotel property across from the Mississippi Sound.

Velastor Oct 22, 2007 6:51 AM

Sadly Treasure Bay was never a cash cow casino, so the money needed for that project to go forward wasn't accumlated in time before Katrina hit, new management was hired and the pirate theme replaced with the new Romantic theme. I don't believe we will ever see Treasure Bay look like that.

Would be amazing if some other developer picked up the Spanish Themed building and used it for a casino. I would just hope they would remove the boat in the front to remove confusion with the existing Treasure Bay.

While typing this up I thought of a name they could use as well. La Isabella or some other spanish word that flows off the tongue well, as long as it isn't mis huevos :P

Side Note: The forums are alive again!! WOOT :yes:

Red UM Rebel Oct 22, 2007 1:45 PM

They have invested all of that capital in reopening the building across the street that it will be a long time before anything of any significance is built on that property. The only think I could see possible is it being bought and then something established across the street. I do like your name idea, and it was good to hear from you Velastor

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