The heart of downtown Biloxi beats stronger and louder each day
Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich delivered a rousing speech full of promise and excitement to Gulf Coast residents during the annual State of the City Address Jan. 30.
More than 600 guests listened to details of what Biloxi has accomplished in the past few years and what they can look forward to in 2020 and beyond.
“We are building a place that our children and grandchildren will love and appreciate as much as we do. In short, to have a vibrant Biloxi where people want to live, work and play, and a place where visitors want to return over and over again”, said the mayor.
“The heart of downtown Biloxi beats stronger and louder each day. We have a performance-based strategy with developers. The goal is to see 230,000-square feet of boutique shops, local breweries, restaurants, and music venues, 330 residential units and 20,000-square feet of office space” said Mayor Gilich.
A graphic was displayed showing gaming revenue has shot up, thanks to the legalization of sportsbook betting in casinos this last year. The mayor said these numbers show that Biloxi is still an expanding market.
Following the success of the West Biloxi Boardwalk, a project with Harrison County, a second phase from Veterans Ave. to Treasure Bay Casino is about to begin. On the sand beach edge will be an 18-inch knee wall that raises the seawall profile to keep sand on the beach and prevent it from blowing onto the highway.
The massive road, water, and sewer project that has plagued East Biloxi for years post-Katrina may finally see a completion date. “We worked hand-in-hand with MEMA and FEMA to complete the North Contract and to move forward with the construction south on the railroad tracks,” said Mayor Gilich. “We expect 55 miles of streets will soon have a final surface asphalt, striping, fence replacements, and landscaping will follow shortly.”
With a nod to the city’s workforce, Mayor Gilich shared some accomplishments. Last year the Community Development Department issued over 3,500 permits, including 221 for commercial buildings and 770 for residential buildings. The staff worked with developers, entrepreneurs, homeowners, and many others to guide them through the process. The Public Works Department processed more than 10,000 work orders last year and mowed over 6,000 miles of grass, performed over 600,000 feet of maintenance/repairs to drainage ditches and saw a 35% increase in water meter installations and repairs. The department maintains 23 water wells throughout the city, 104 wastewater lift stations and ensures 2,700 fire hydrants are working properly.
The mayor discussed Keesler’s new main gate, stating it will create an economic development corridor on Division Street, from I-110 to the new entrance at Forrest Avenue.
“A new roundabout drive at Division and Forrest will take you inside the gate, to new Keesler Visitors Center and contractors office,” he said.
Keesler’s plan is to begin using the gate after the commercial checkpoint has been constructed by the end of 2021, and the gate will be fully operational in 2022 when the visitors center will be completed.
On Point Cadet this year, a $140 million amusement park, 300-room hotel, and parking garage will be coming out of the ground at the Margaritaville resort. A $12 million Ferris Wheel has been ordered and city officials anticipate the landscape of the Point is going to change when it opens in the spring of next year.
“Ronald Reagan used to say that America’s best days are ahead of it… I’m convinced Biloxi’s best days are every day, and our future is bright and full of promise”, said Mayor Gilich. Watch Biloxi’s State of the City 2020 video here.