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  Date Posted: 09/26/2014
Post # 14-0005


  Gulfport lands Holiday Inn Resort for Centennial Plaza

GULFPORT -- A Holiday Inn Resort will anchor an initial $40.5 million development planned at Centennial Plaza. That announcement was accompanied Tuesday afternoon at City Hall by the unfurling of a banner and broad smiles from city leaders who have waited years for this day.

Gulfport will join only 18 other localities in this country, including Fort Walton Beach, Fla., with a Holiday Inn Resort.

"Now that we've got our anchor lined up, it should be the catalyst to develop the rest of the property," Mayor Billy Hewes said.

Two existing buildings on the western side of the property will have hotel rooms. Le Triomphe will construct a central building for check-in, offices and amenities. A pool with a lazy river also is planned. The hotel development is expected to cost about $30 million.

Louisiana developer Stewart Juneau said miles of trails and sidewalks, plus roads and other infrastructure, also are planned, along with an open-air market and stage on the central parade grounds. Monthly marquee events will be held on the property. Events already lined up include Cruisin' The Coast, Barbecue Under the Oaks and the CASA Halloween party.

A future development phase, estimated at $80 million, would include a beach boardwalk and pier, complete with vending stalls, a Ferris wheel and other attractions. Juneau said le Triomphe plans to talk soon with state leaders about using development incentives the state offers for tourism projects.

"The GRC is extremely pleased not only with the vision for Centennial Plaza development, but also with the appreciation the developers have for the historical significance and importance of the property and its preservation for generations to come." GRC Chairwoman Carole Lynn Meadows said.

Hewes said the city will enhance Centennial Plaza's appeal by cleaning out Coffee Creek, which runs along the property's western edge to the Clower-Thornton Nature Trail. Juneau expects the Holiday Inn Resort to be open by the beginning of 2016.
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