By LISA MONTI
A condo-hotel development on Court Street at Beach Boulevard in Bay St. Louis has conceptual approval from the Historic Preservation Committee and is awaiting the city’s final approval before its developer can start construction.
Charles Webb, the owner, developed several properties in the Florida Panhandle before moving back to his hometown of Gulfport.
Bay St. Louis has seen an increase in residential construction over the last year or two and several large homes have been built on beachfront lots that have been empty since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Commercial activity has also increased, with new bars and restaurants coming to the downtown area.
Webb, who bought the 17,500-square-foot property three months before Hurricane Katrina, started developing the project from scratch last year. “I felt last summer it was time to begin the condo development,” he said.
He and Biloxi architect Gerald Hopkins, who has worked with Webb on other projects, starting coming up with a concept. “We wanted to get something that looks good, is profitable and sustainable. We have a lot of work left to do to get the first phase signed off on and move on,” Webb said.
He named the project Pelic-Inn to emphasize the inn lodging concept.
“It will be 18 condos which will be sold individually that can be put on a rental program and be rented overnight or for weekly short-term stays,” he said.
The condos will take the top two floors of the building with parking underneath. The bottom floor will house a rental office and have 1,300 square feet of commercial space that will be leased or sold for a restaurant. The grounds will include a swimming pool overlooking the Bay and an outdoor patio area.
Webb would not disclose a purchase price of the property and said it’s too early to know how much it will cost to build the condos. He did say the price of a two-bedroom unit will be under $300,000. Fourteen of the 18 units have two bedrooms and two baths, and owners have the option of dividing their unit into one full condo suite for personal use and the other smaller unit as a rental. There also are two-bedroom/studios and two one-bedrooms with one bath.
Webb said he will have marketing material ready in 60 days. “We’ve got people now who are interested in buying but I won’t take reservations until I get site plan approval.” Several of those who expressed interest are local residents, he said.
The Beach Boulevard site at Court Street is one block off Main Street and is in the middle of restaurants, bars, shops and galleries. Another condo development nearby is planning a groundbreaking this month.
“As soon as we satisfy site plan requirements, we will work aggressively on plans and begin marketing,” he said.
Webb sees a demand for more places where visitors can stay in the historic downtown.
“I know they will rent,” he said of his condo units. “You can park your car, walk to your boat or go downtown and you don’t have to fight for a parking space or drive home. We won’t take away business from others because there’s just not enough. We need more.”
Webb said he is also reviving his pre-Katrina plans to build a large family-oriented development at Pitcher Point on the Long Beach beachfront that renters can use as a vacation home. The 10-floor project will have a swimming pool and other amenities.
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