A Biloxi real estate developer has decided to donate some 30 acres of land he intended to build a casino on to a local charity.
Chris Ferrara is one of the largest landowners in the Mississippi Gulf Coast town. The Sun Herald reports that the businessman began snagging up properties east of I-110 shortly after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
One parcel he acquired was 30 acres, located just north of Back Bay Blvd. between Crawford Street and Oak Street. Ferrara proposed constructing a $260 million casino resort on the land. But the development never came to realization because of a host of reasons, most specifically road access.
Ferrara has officially folded on his casino ambitions, and has made the decision to do good with the property. Instead of slot machines and table games, the businessman has bestowed the lot to the Boys and Girls Club of the Gulf Coast. The acreage is valued at $28 million.
I did it truly to help the Boys and Girls Club,” Ferrara told the Sun Herald. “They can do what they want to do with it.”
The Gulf Coast Boys and Girls organization works to change the lives of children and teens in a safe, positive, and engaging environment. The chapter is headquartered in Gulfport.
Ferrara received site approval for a casino from the Mississippi Gaming Commission some 15 years ago. But Ferrara never broke ground, saying he wouldn’t until the East Biloxi Loop was completed from his property south to Palace Casino and Golden Nugget.
The East Biloxi Loop currently stops along Back Bay Blvd at Oak Street. Back Bay’s unfinished continuation southeast is credited for the Margaritaville Casino’s closure in 2014. The road extension has been estimated to cost $22 million to complete.
Ferrara had pledged to donate needed land to build the road, and Biloxi casino operators were to contribute $7 million. The Mississippi Development Authority approved allocating $5 million to the infrastructure initiative, leaving $9 million unfunded.
The $9 million problem kept Ferrara’s land off the beaten path. The Boys and Girls Club now controls the $28 million property, but it doesn’t come cheap. Ferrara paid some $75,000 in property taxes last year alone on the acreage.
East Biloxi Dead Zone
Beau Rivage, Hard Rock, and Golden Nugget keep the Gulf Coast shore bustling. IP Casino and Boomtown lure plenty of visitors to the north bay by being just off I-110.
The northeastern section of Biloxi, however, continues to struggle. Ferrara folding on his casino dreams is yet another setback for the desolate area.
Prior to the pandemic, legendary rockers KISS announced a partnership with a development group to build a $200 million casino resort at the former Margaritaville Casino. The project called for a 300-room hotel and casino floor featuring 1,000 slot machines and several dozen table games.
COVID-19 stalled the KISS development. No work has been done on the site, and the property owners have not obtained relevant state permits to build the casino resort.
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