M.D.A. Officials Visit Gulfport to Assess Katrina Rebuilding
Tuesday, experts from the Mississippi Development Authority (M.D.A.) visited Gulfport to survey and report on what Gulfport is doing well and what improvements can be made. Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is still rebuilding and recovering.
While Gulfport is rebounding, state development leaders say there are still many hidden jewels. One of them is a vacant laundry facility on the north side of the Centennial Plaza property. Tina Blue of the M.D.A. says, “A laundry facility, which is humungous. It has a 35 foot ceiling. We thought this was a great area to do a sportsplex facility where you could host gymnastics, volleyball, soccer.”
The visions for building up tourism don’t stop here. The group also talked about putting in art galleries, walking trails, and water parks in different areas of the city. Another focus is continuing the revitalization of downtown Gulfport by adding more housing and creative retail space. Blue also says, “Pop up retail space, you can have on the weekends, have a pop up Gulfport grab venue where different venders come up and set out tents and sell their products to get people to thinking of downtown as a retail space.”
While presenting their findings, specialists say one of the best ways to improve Gulfport may be to repurpose existing properties. Blue also says, “We thought that the lower floor area could be used as a farmers market, to use it as like a dual space. So you have the farmers market at the bottom level and then upper level you can have artisans come in and do their work.”
Gulfport’s new Economic Director, David Parker, is using Tuesday’s event as a springboard for a more serious discussion about Gulfport’s overall strategic plan. Parker says his main concern is signage in Gulfport. Parker says, “Without that map, they may not have been able to find the certain places or destinations that they went to today.”
Map or no map, these state and city leaders hope to watch Gulfport grow as a sound tourist destination.