An announcement at City Council today changed all of that. Coming over the bridge into Biloxi, the first thing you see is a construction site that was abandoned years ago. City officials say that many business people refused to invest in east Biloxi because of this eyesore on the south side of Highway 90. Today in Biloxi, the owners of that property, the Grand Casino, announced a big change. The Coast can get ready to say goodbye to a longtime eyesore after a grand announcement at Biloxi City Council today. Jonathon Jones, the Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Grand Casino, says, "Effective immediately, we will begin the process to demolish the structure across the street." That property is the skeleton of what was going to be the 700 million dollar Margaritaville Project that was never finished. Once destroyed, the materials that were to be used for the framework will be put to great use. Jones also says, “We have collaborated and been in talks with the D.M.R. who is very eager to use the materials to extend Katrina Key, which will be a nice benefit for the marine habitat.” The undeveloped land will now be used for a boardwalk and entertainment lawn that will be open to the public. George Lawrence, a Biloxi Councilman for Ward 1, says, "You going to have the two walkovers, public access to that. It's going to be great to have outside events." Today's announcement follows a long battle where the city threatened to fine the Grand Casino for each additional day the infrastructure stayed standing. Now, city officials are excited that the view from the bridge will be clear very soon.
Jerry Creel, the Executive Director of the Biloxi Planning Commission, says, "We didn't know what to expect a couple of weeks ago, but today, we're all excited." The Grand Casino will also refurbish the hotel rooms and casino floor and add three new restaurants, in addition to changing from the name from The Grand to Harrah's Gulf Coast, tying it to the popular casino brand nationwide. The best part is, all of this change will be done sooner than you think. Jones also says, "We expect to be finished in the spring with everything, so it's a quick timeline." So the Coast can expect change very soon, and Biloxi city officials are ecstatic. Creel also says, “It's very exciting news and we're certainly glad we got to this point.” Representatives from the Grand Casino say they chose Harrah’s Gulf Coast to link them to the region going beyond just the city of Biloxi. City officials and the casino personnel are excited about the entertainment lawn that will be used for concerts and music festivals for the general public.