Former Casino Magic in Biloxi to get new life as resort, water park

June 25, 2015
By Mary Perez at Sun Herald

BILOXI -- Plans for a new resort and water park at the former Casino Magic on the beach in East Biloxi were presented Thursday to the Biloxi Architectural and Historical Review Commission and approved.

Developer Cono Caranna with Biloxi Lodging LLC said the resort will have 373 hotel rooms, two restaurants and a water park on an extension that is being built immediately north of the hotel tower.

Parking will be in the garage in the hotel tower and underneath the new portions of the resort. The water park is one acre and will have a kids' splash pad designed for infants to 10 year olds along with water slides, an activity pool, a lazy river and a swim-up bar.

A marina also is planned and Caranna said they are in talks with Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann about additional development to the west of the resort.

The name of the new resort can't be revealed yet at the request of the hotel operator, which he said is opening another property this year and doesn't want to take away from that opening.

Casino Magic at 195 Beach Boulevard has sat empty since Hurricane Katrina 10 years ago. Caranna said work is already well under way on the hotel and they plan to open the hotel and water park in March, in time for spring break.

The new resort won't open with a casino, but Caranna said one could be added later. "We're not going to devalue the property," he said.

The project went before the AHRC because it is within the Point Cadet Historical District.

"This is one of the last two blighted structures we have left in Biloxi," said Jerry Creel, Biloxi community development director. The development puts the property back on the tax rolls, he said.

The developers, who last year restored and reopened the White House Hotel after it was closed for decades, also are preparing to restore the Santa Maria del Mar -- the other property on the city's blighted list -- into an upscale hotel. The building north of the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor on U.S. 90 in downtown Biloxi also has been empty since Katrina, and Caranna said they plan to start work there once construction is complete at the former Casino Magic tower.

Creel told the AHRC the new resort is part of over $100 million of commercial development that is permitted and under construction in Biloxi, and additional projects are under review. The city also has 84 single family homes under construction and he said, "All of a sudden residential is starting to coming back to the Biloxi beach." The AHRC approved two homes Thursday that will be built in the Edgewater Park Historical District.

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