BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The landscape of East Biloxi may soon be changing as one coast developer wants to invest $600 million into a new casino resort.
The developer wants to turn the site of the old Tivoli Hotel into Biloxi’s newest casino resort. The 30-acre tract of beachfront land sits just west of the Biloxi Yacht Club, and has been zoned for gaming since 2007.
The firm Biloxi Capital, which involves Coast developer Danny Conwill, purchased the land in 2005-2006 for more than $40 million, but it’s been sitting undeveloped since that time.
Thursday, the company published its Notice of Intent to apply for gaming site approval. The overall site is bordered by Holley Street on the west, Biloxi Yacht Club on the east, Howard Avenue on the north, and the Mississippi Sound on the south.
Attorney Michael Cavanaugh represents Biloxi Capital and said the company is hoping to gain site approval from the Mississippi Gaming Commission next month.
“We believe the timing is right because of market conditions,” Cavanaugh told WLOX News.
Conwill and his partners envision investing around $600 million to construct a major casino resort at the site.
According to the public notice, “The Applicant anticipates that the establishment will contain approximately 100,000 square feet of gaming space and approximately 2,000 slot machines and 75 table games. The project will include approximately 1,300 hotel rooms; 100,000 square feet of convention space and other amenities as approved by the Mississippi Gaming Commission.”
Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said this site “is in the very heart of the East Biloxi waterfront area where the city has focused its development efforts. The project as proposed, will complement many of the initiatives on which we have been working.”
Councilman Felix Gines and Councilman George Lawrence represent that area of East Biloxi.
“A development of this nature in East Biloxi will only help stimulate other much needed developments such as housing and retail growth. There isn’t a better location in Biloxi to help stimulate and kick start growth in the area,” Gines said.
Gilich also acknowledged that Biloxi and the Coast have seen dozens of casino projects pitched over the years. Key to this development, the mayor said, would be the Mississippi Gaming Commission formally approving the site as suitable for gaming.
“We believe in letting the market dictate itself," said Gines. “Now this could also be a game-changer for the city of Biloxi. This is a development that we’ve been working on for a while.”
Conwill grew up on the Coast and has a family home in Pass Christian. In addition to this major economic development opportunity, he also acquired Felix’s Oyster House of New Orleans and expanded the restaurant brand to Gulfport.
At one time, the waterfront property where the developer is hoping to build the new casino also housed the Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art. The museum’s current director of marketing said it was there when he first came to the Ohr O’Keefe. As developments continue to pop up in the area, the museum has seen an increase in visitors.
“When I got here our visitorship wasn’t very high at all,” said Nathen Lytle. “Anything that brings us closer as a community, and a building being on that other side, would make this more of a walkable area.”
The Ohr O’Keefe is ready to reap the benefits of more foot traffic and plans to use the opportunity to teach people from all over the world about the Gulf Coast through art.
“It’s something that we can use to teach the coming generations and it should have all the value for everyone, whether they’re tourists or locals,” said Lytle.
Biloxi Capital hopes its proposal will be recognized in the Mississippi Gaming Commission’s December agenda