Thursday, February 28, 2008

Story by Biloxi's WLOX

Rebuilding Infrastructure & Culture On Biloxi's Oak Street

It was a meeting of the minds for some people who live in East Biloxi.
Wednesday night people came together to give their feedback on plans to revitalize the Oak Street community.

"We lost so much of the face of our community, and that's something we cannot reclaim," said Thao Vu with the Boat People SOS.

Vu says after Hurricane Katrina, very few homes and businesses returned to the area. Instead, many relocated to D'Iberville and Ocean Springs. That's why her organization, as well as several others from the Vietnamese Community are working together to make plans to rebuild Oak Street.

Wednesday night was the first of many workshops aimed at getting a uniform design for the historic community.

"Change can be good, but there's also many things that you want to keep - tradition, cultural heritage. And that's something we keep in mind on Oak Street," Vu said.

Architect David Perkes agrees.

"It's all kinds of various pieces in motion," Perkes said.

He is the director of the Gulf Coast Design Studio, the company that worked with property owners and residents to create five design plans for Oak Street. They include a Vietnamese District, similar to what you would see in larger cities, a residential area, an international street made up of restaurants, bars and shops, a mixed use community and a tourist condo living area.

"Our role here is to help the community visualize their own community," Perkes said.

Right now, Oak Street is lined with several residences and businesses.
It is also the home of a Vietnamese church where hundreds of people attend mass every day.

"We would like the leaders of these churches and temples to really help because they are the leaders of this community," said Vu.

Some residents are still torn on which plans will work best, but they do want more grocery stores that serve both Vietnamese and American food. They also want restaurants that stay open later. All are ideas organizers call key to revitalizing a community where everyone will want to live, work and play.

If you were not able to attend the meeting and you have some ideas, can call Boat People SOS at 228-436-9999.

by Elise Roberts

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Biloxi's Quality of Life

This is from the City of Biloxi

City updates online collection of quality-of-life indicators

Biloxi's population is down an estimated 12 percent since Hurricane Katrina, but the number of residents is expected to surge by 20 percent over pre-Katrina levels during the next couple of years.

The population estimates, the first formal post-Katrina ackowledgement by the city, are among the dozens of facts and figures found in the newly updated online version of the city's "General Market Analysis."

The latest U.S. Census population estimate for Biloxi – 44,342 – does not include those areas of Biloxi that were annexed in 1999, months before Census 2000 was unveiled. That census said Biloxi's pre-annexation population was 50,644.

The "General Market Analysis" is a 28-page compendium -- text, and full-color photographs and charts -- that touts trends in such quality-of-life dynamics as affordable housing, home sales, unemployment, education, and the many other factors that impact the local economy.

To see the online version of the report, including a user-friendly alphabetized index, click here.

"This is an excellent tool for someone – whether a local or interested out-of-towner – who wants to learn about Biloxi and what makes our community such a vibrant place," said Community Development Director Jerry Creel, whose department is responsible for producing the report. "This is 'the book on Biloxi.'"

The city had updated the information annually before Hurricane Katrina, but the 2008 version is the first since the Aug. 29, 2005 storm. As a result, many comparisons of pre- and post-Katrina Biloxi are included in the various sections of the report.

Among the matter-of-fact statements in the new GMA:

--- The median age in Biloxi is 34.6, the city has 20,094 households, and an average household size of 2.38.

--- The city's unemployment rate today is 6.3 percent, and was 24.9 percent a month after Katrina.

--- In FY 2005, the city issued 1,196 commercial-construction permits valued at $116.4 million. In FY 2007, the city issued 972 commercial permits valued at $411.7 million.

--- Gross sales from the food and beverage group dropped from $328 million in FY '04 to $167.6 million in FY '06. Sales of lumber and building materials, meanwhile, went from $30.5 million to $80 million for the same time period.

--- The average market time for homes, condos and townhomes in Biloxi was 119 days in 2002, with an average sales price of $126,921. In 2007 (through the end of July) the average time on the market was 105 days and the average sales price was $183,498.

--- The Beau Rivage Resort & Casino is the city's largest taxpayer, with a taxable assessed value of $69.2 million. The mega-resort represents 12.79 percent of the city's total assessed valuation, and the city's Top 10 taxpayers account for 35 percent of the city's total valuation.

--- Biloxi has 219 sunny days a year, with an average January temperature of 52 degrees, and 92 in July.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

More than Half of February is gone

This month has been flying by, and i have been really letting my blog slip.

So far, this month has been exhausting, good over all, but exhausting.

Work is going really well. I feel like i am getting so much done, and i have a lot on my plate, and i am enjoying it.
First, i have two new houses under construction, both are being built by BFS and managed by Dan, their construction manager. Dan and i have become quick buddies, and i am learning a whole lot from him. He is really demanding of me, which is good, and is always sure to ask me my opinion. I am super lucky to be working with him. I am getting invaluable experience that i dont think most of my peers (outside of my office) are getting.

Second, the shrimp house is really getting built. It is one of the houses that i mentioned above, but it is amazing that it is actually in existence. I am not sure how it actually passed through all of the hoops to get funding and all, but it did, and it is getting built.

Third, my client victor had a victory this week. The city of Gulfport (where victor lives) gave me a bit of a scare over the last month. I was under the belief that we were going to have to fight tooth and nail to get permission to build his house, but it worked out. We have permission from the city to submit it for permit.

Fourth, the Reynoir Street Improvement program is really moving. I am glad to see this amount of momentum behind the program, and i will try to write more about this later.

That is all i am going to say about work for now, because i feel like i can go on forever.

Life outside of work is going really well too, and i have been constantly busy. I could go into deep heartfelt writings right now, but i am not going to. Things are just good, not perfect, not the way i would wish, but they are good none the less, and i am oh so thankful for that.