By LISA MONTI
Construction of The Pearl Hotel in the center of Old Town Bay St. Louis is about a quarter of the way completed and the targeted opening is Winter 2020. Hancock County-based Cure Land Co. is the developer.
Work at the corner of Beach Boulevard and Main Street, where a small shopping mall had been before Hurricane Katrina, began early this year. The city building department issued a permit in January with valuation listed at $10.7 million. Cure Land Co. did not provide an updated cost. The property was called North Beach Hotel in the planning stages.
So far, workers have constructed and strengthened the base of the four-story building and the upper floors are being framed, according to Regina Davis, architectural designer with the New Orleans firm Trapolin-Peer Architects which designed the hotel.
The 54,700-square-foot boutique hotel will have 59 rooms, an open-air courtyard and a swimming pool on the second floor. Three retail spaces will be on the hotel’s ground level and it is expected that a restaurant and bar will be among the occupants. Parking for hotel guests will be offsite.
The construction site is surrounded by banners for contractors and others involved in the project. The building will fill the prime corner, which has been used in recent years for parking and community events. On the Main Street side, the hotel will sidle up to a one-story brick building that houses Field’s, part of the Nicaud family’s restaurants, and three retail spaces. On the Beach Boulevard side of the hotel is Trapani’s Eatery, a two-story restaurant and bar that has been open 25 years.
Cure Land Co. is a family-owned business with significant holdings in Hancock County. The company announced this year plans to build a casino on the beach near the Silver Slipper Casino, which sits on Cure-owned property.
Trapolin-Peer Architects is an award-winning New Orleans architectural firm whose portfolio includes the Pontchartrain Hotel on St. Charles Avenue, the Marriott Convention Center in downtown New Orleans and the Southern Hotel in Covington, La.
The addition of the hotel on an empty lot in the heart of historic Bay St. Louis is welcomed by city boosters, including Tish Williams, executive director of the Hancock Chamber of Commerce, which is housed directly across Main Street from the hotel in the Hancock Whitney Bank building.
“Tourism is the number one industry for the Bay and the Pearl is extremely important to the economic vitality of Hancock County,” she said. “This significant capital investment will also create career opportunities for our citizens, spur other community development and investments, and generate tax revenue.” She said the Cure’s investment “will be the catalyst that will bring a new source of customers to the area that will fuel all of the other businesses. Through the Pearl, we can introduce our community to a new source of investors and future residents.”
Nikki Moon, who is active in Coast tourism and owns Bay Town Inn on Beach Boulevard near the hotel site, said, “The opening of The Pearl Hotel next year is so exciting. It will offer our visitors a new and unique place to stay in the heart of Old Town.”
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