Waveland hopes to lease business center
By Dwayne Bremer
Nov 10, 2017, 22:42
Waveland officials said they hope to lease the business center on Coleman Avenue.
The Waveland business center on Coleman Avenue was built after Hurricane Katrina with hopes that it would one day be an "incubator" for small businesses in Hancock County.
Instead, the $3.5 million facility has been a drain on the city's budget.
Mayor Mike Smith said Thursday that the city hopes to be able to sell the property one day, but for now, it will have to settle for a lease to a master tenant.
"We budgeted about $70,000 this year for insurance and maintenance for that building," Smith said. "We do not collect anywhere near $70,000."
The "business incubator" was conceived as one of Waveland's recovery projects.
The idea was to use the property for small business support, possibly with a non-profit group leasing it.
Things did not go as planned, however, as a potential deal with the Hancock County Chamber of Commerce fell through under the David Garcia administration.
Since then, the building has hosted a few small businesses, and at one point, the city was going to use a portion of it as temporary quarters for the police department.
Although the city did not pay to construct the business center, it is responsible for insurance and upkeep, Smith said.
Currently, there are only three of the seven units being occupied, he said.
Under federal funding guidelines, the city is not able to sell the property for another two years, Smith said.
"We are looking for a master tenant, who will be able to absorb the insurance and upkeep costs," Smith said.
"The existing businesses will still be allowed to operate, but the city does not need to lose money every year."
The board of aldermen recently solicited bids on a lease of the business center, and those bids are expected to be opened on Nov. 22, Smith said.
The mayor said he would like to see a company eventually take over the business center and use it to help revitalize Coleman Avenue.
"It is a great facility," Smith said. "It's just going to take the right group with the right setup to make it work."