Biloxi architectural commission wants more design tweaks to hotel project

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) – The design for a $32 million hotel project in Biloxi is an image to behold. But not everybody agrees on what image is acceptable in the West Beach Historic District.

The proposal, just west of White Avenue between Highway 90 and Father Ryan Avenue, is getting a big push back from residents in the area.

“We want to do as much as possible to keep that property in keeping with the traditions and the design of the Biloxi architecture,” said resident Michael Kavanagh.

And, so far, residents in the area and the Biloxi Architectural and Historical Review Commission don’t like what they see. On Thursday, the commission and voted against approval.

The development includes a 40-unit boutique hotel called Aqua Suites Biloxi, and a 108-unit Residence Inn. Dale Partners Architects, the firm working with the developer Wealth Hospitality, presented architectural changes for both hotels.

“The front property, they changed,” Kavanagh said. “It looks better. The back property is just a cookie-cutter Residence Inn.”

In a second vote, the review commission gave the architects and the developer until its next meeting on March 24 to tweak designs, if possible, and present them.

“I do believe that there are going to have to be some significant changes made in order to get that approved and to please the neighbors as well,” Kavanagh said.

Gerald Blessey represents the developers.

“Property owners have property rights on both sides of this,” he said. “We’ll see. We really don’t feel like we’re adversaries. We hope we don’t become adversaries. We’re trying to accommodate all reasonable and feasible concerns.”

It’s a challenge Dale Partners Architects has accepted.

“This is a process we’re more than happy to go through it,” said partner R. Neil Polan. “And work with the residents and make everyone happy. One of the challenges with Biloxi still kind of rebuilding from Katrina, is that you have properties that may never be redeveloped in the same use they were originally. That’s something we’re trying to accommodate.”

Residents say they have many other issues beyond architectural designs such as the height of the Residence Inn and its proximity to surrounding homes. Those will have to be taken up at the Biloxi Planning Commission meeting on March 17.

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