Gulfport could borrow up to $15 million to fund commercial development

By Steve Wilson | Mississippi Watchdog

Gulfport may borrow up to $15 million to help fund a commercial development after having already borrowed $3 million to aid another.

WHERE YOUR SHIP COMES IN: Gulfport is planning to give $18 million to a pair of developers to build two projects. One is for a hotel and retail space and the other is a business park.

The Gulfport City Council voted on a bond issue and another resolution at its meeting Tuesday. The $15 million bond issue will fund infrastructure improvements for the 80-acre Anchor Plaza project located near the junction of Interstate 10 and U.S. 49, which according to the measure, will have four hotels, six restaurants and “planned retail and related commercial space.”

The resolution will allow developers of the Gulfport Highlands, a mixed-use retail/commercial project, to install infrastructure improvements using $3 million from a bond issue approved in 2011. The development is located off State Road 605 and I-10.

The Biloxi Sun Herald reported the two votes were unanimous with no discussion. The Anchor Plaza resolution has a public hearing, but no date has been set.

Howard Page, the Port Campaign coordinator for the Biloxi-based Steps Coalition, said these type of government investments have plenty of downsides.

“This is something a smart business, the private sector, can better address,” Page said. “I think this is a net drain on the taxpayers’ wallets. I’ve never seen any good data on government investments. You’re going to increase taxes in the short term in the hopes of getting more tax revenue, both property and sales, down the road. I don’t think that happens.”

Contact Steve Wilson at swilson@watchdog.org

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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