The Gulfport City Council has voted to expand the tax abatement program in to include more property along Highway 90. The program was started after Hurricane Katrina to encourage rebuilding, but it wasn't going far enough. After Katrina ripped through Gulfport, many homeowners and businesses chose not to come back, but as concrete slabs stood untouched, the Gulfport City Council passed a seven year break on property taxes, encouraging folks to rebuild.
Ricky Dombrowski, the President of the Gulfport City Council, says, “And there's so many businesses that we lost that we basically expanded it from Courthouse Road to Centennial Plaza. There used to be a gas station here, where we are today, but it’s not here.” Dombrowski says some areas are growing, and that's why the tax abatement was only extended to Centennial Plaza and not all the way to Highway 49. Salute, for example, a loyal Gulfport restaurant, has been steadfast even without the tax breaks. Salute's was one of the first restaurants to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina and owners say it’s because they call Gulfport home.
Robert Stinson, the owner of Salute, says, “Gulfport was such a great environment for us with what's around us with the renovations and the historical properties that were here, but more importantly for me, it was kind of like home.” Salute didn't receive tax abatement when built after Katrina, but are now motivated to branch out because of the tax breaks. Stinson also says, “We are working in a beach front property in Biloxi because of it being a multi-use facility, so we're very familiar with what the tax benefits can be and it’s absolutely a huge motivator.”
Gulfport hopes to see chain restaurants and stores make a comeback within the next few years with the expanded program. The original tax abatement program included the stretch of Highway 90 from Cowan-Lorraine to Courthouse Road, but now extends to Centennial Plaza.