Vieux Marche becoming beehive of activity

Part of Howard Avenue that runs through the Vieux Marche will be closed for the next several days, but don’t get the idea that nothing’s going on in downtown Biloxi.

In fact, the Vieux Marche, the heart of Biloxi’s downtown district, is seeing a good bit of activity these days, with a major restoration project underway at Bancorp South’s main office and Main Street Biloxi planning a three-day investors fair to showcase business opportunities in the downtown area.

And, behind the scenes, architects at Guild Hardy Associates are continuing to work up designs for an outdoor stage and open-air plaza that will be situated in the former location of the Golden Fisherman. Those designs should be completed in the next couple of months.

The work at Bancorp South will require the section of Howard Avenue from Reynoir to Ohr streets in the Vieux Marche to be temporarily closed to vehicular traffic possibly until Thursday, as contractors remove the façade of the bank.

“We’re going to bring back some of the original flavor of the old bank,” said Tom Murphy, Biloxi community bank president of Bancorp South. “It’s going to be an asset to Biloxi and an uplifting project for this area. We also think it’s going to enhance the revitalization efforts that Main Street Biloxi and the city are pushing, and it certainly shows this bank’s commitment to the community and our desire to see great things happen.”

The demolition of the façade is merely the first phase of a six-month project that will include a complete renovation of the exterior and interior of the downtown building, which was originally known as the First National Bank of Biloxi and later First Mississippi National Bank before becoming Bancorp South in 1986.

Main Street Biloxi will be hoping to spark similar downtown interest with its April 21-23 investors fair, which will be held at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino and at several other downtown sites.

The seminar will feature nearly a dozen speakers who will provide potential developers and existing business owners with economic data, info on available downtown properties, various financing alternatives and information on tax incentives now offered by the city and other agencies. Guided tours of the downtown area and a business expo also are planned.

“We’re confident that with the presence of both existing and future casino resorts, downtown Biloxi has a significant potential to attract more pedestrian traffic, particularly those interested in non-gaming activities, such as specialty retail shopping, dining, entertainment and various cultural attractions,” said Kay Miller, Main Street Biloxi’s executive director. “This is a real opportunity for investors and business owners interested in locating or relocating to the area.”

To see a brochure about the seminar, click here.

For more information or to register for the seminar, contact Miller at kmiller@biloxi.ms.us or at 435-6339.

To learn more about Main Street Biloxi, click here.

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