Bridge Opening Should Spur Interest in Redeveloping
There is a lot more riding on the opening of the new Biloxi Bay Bridge this week than easing commuter traffic. Much of the Coast's future economic development, particularly in Biloxi is at stake, and with the opening of the first two lanes of the bridge Thursday, developers say the way is paved for the future of the Coast to grow.
This is particularly of interest to the owners of the former President casino, formerly known as the Broadwater property in west Biloxi.
Roy Anderson, the nationally-recognized contractor headquartered in Gulfport, and his partner W.C. Fore, own the Broadwater property, which is considered among the Coast's crown jewels of land. But since Katrina in 2005, not much has happened at the site. Just recently, work to remove some of the slabs of the former hotel and cottages is underway. But will the site be developed any time soon?
The short answer is no. GCN spoke with Roy Anderson by phone Tuesday about the property.
"We have considerable interest by developers and groups looking at the property," Anderson said. "But we don't have anything specific to tell you right now."
Anderson said that with the opening of the bridge, as well as the completion of the renovations to the Gulfport/Biloxi International Airport, and the pending expansion of the Coliseum's convention center, that the signs are right for some decisions to be made on the Broadwater.
"We love to tell you something within the next few months," Anderson explained. "Several groups are doing due-diligence and researching the Coast."
Several months after the hurricane there was some speculation that a major development was underway that would include several casinos as well as a whole bevy of condo towers and a shopping development. But there has been no additional information since. Still, the lack of news doesn't mean that the site will stay vacant long into the future.
The Broadwater property includes a huge swath of land that runs from the beach to Pass Road in Biloxi. The site also incorporated an 18-hole golf course and the former Broadwater Marina where the President Casino barge was once located. The marina was destroyed by the hurricane and remains much as it did immediately after the hurricane.
The marina, though empty, has frequently been used by fishermen who fished from the damaged concrete piers. That has stopped since the owners have put up and are enforcing trespassing laws.
Biloxi officials contacted by GCN say that they have received no new information on the Broadwater site and no building permits have been requested. Vincent Creel, the city's public information manager told GCN that the slab removal at the Broadwater is "part of the city's recent request to beachfront landowners to remove slabs that the city considers a hazard."