Biloxi neighbors react to potential beach-front hotel development in historic neighborhood

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – Neighbors of the West Beach Historic District are riled up because of possible hotel development.

The Biloxi Planning Commission proposed a $32 million project composed of two hotels between Father Ryan Avenue and the beach, just west of the White House Hotel.

Megan Gill has been a resident of the area for two years and said when you drive through the neighborhood, the aesthetics will catch your eye.

“It’s very historic and beautiful. The street is lined with trees, it’s very family-friendly. The kids ride bikes, everyone’s walking their dog. We really enjoy how quiet and beautiful it is,” Gill said.

However, the neighborhood could soon get more action to the area.

The city’s director of community development Jerry Creel explained one would be an extended stay hotel with180 units, along with the other being 40 units.

“It adds to our tourism package. We’re being besieged with tourists coming to Biloxi for different types of events and for the amusements we have here now, and we need more hotel rooms. This piece of property is set aside for commercial development,” Creel said. “It’s not one to redevelop for single-family residential. The price of waterfront property is just too high to make a project like that work, so the commercial development is what’s most appropriate for this location.”

Gill said she and her neighbors unified in anger when they heard the news, saying more traffic would be obnoxious to the area and hazardous to kids.

“The neighbors and I are not really happy about all of the commercial coming up. We’ve talked with many of our neighbors, and we like the quietness of our neighborhood, we like the look of it, we love that it’s historic, we love that it’s very family-friendly and it’s peaceful. No one is really happy about all the new roads, driveways and parking that’s going to be smack dab in the middle of the neighborhood,” Gill said.

Creel said a portion of the Father Ryan Avenue property has a connection to attach a notch boxed entrance and exit for emergency vehicles.

“In the event of an emergency so only police, fire, and ambulance would have access to that gate, otherwise, this gate would never be used for the hotel itself or for garbage trucks or anything like that. The neighbors won’t even know it’s there. There will be a nice, attractive gate that they’re putting in on that side. A wall with a gate going across it,” Creel said.

Another concern neighbors have is that eight oak trees on the property will be cut down during the developmental process.

Creel said planners worked to make sure to maintain most of the trees on the property; however, some were unhealthy making the removal necessary.

“Only three are healthy trees, and of those three, only one is a protected tree. Five of them are unhealthy trees that the developer’s arborists and our city arborists determined need to be removed, Creel said.

“I’m excited for the opportunity that it’s going to bring, but we’re a little concerned about all that commercialism coming to our quiet area,” Gill said.

Officials said Thursday morning the AHRC will meet to review revisions to the building’s design on the building’s property.

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