Meridian Star

November 11, 2013

Prices still dropping on beachfront property


Associated Press

GULFPORT —

GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) — For-sale signs sprout like flowers along beach properties in the three coast counties.

The Sun Herald reports (http://bit.ly/17WCf0Q ) only six residential lots and three commercial lots on the beach in Harrison County sold in the last 12 months through the Mississippi Gulf Coast Multiple Listing Service. The average time on the market of residential lots in Harrison County took two years and went for 65 percent of the list price.

Michael Gusa had an offer of more than $6.5 million for the Sea Oaks Professional Plaza in Gulfport, before Hurricane Katrina in 2005. At that time, the property was fully occupied and he and the other owners didn't want to sell.

The plaza was destroyed and now the 4.6-acre lot is listed for $1.4 million.

Gusa said there has been no serious interest.

"We need to find a buyer who has a vision of what they want to do with it," he said.

Gusa said the owners pay the taxes and keep the property neat and trim, hoping one day soon a buyer will come along.

Kenneth Jones, a commercial real estate agent for Coldwell Banker Commercial Alfonso Realty who sells property across South Mississippi, said any time a property is on the market for a long time prices are going to fall.

Jones is seeing interest from developers in a condo site and a couple of restaurants, but said the few gas stations on the beach now are probably the only ones that will be there. National retail chains and drug stores also may never come back to the beach.

He said, "These retailers will not do anything that requires large ramps or steps."

Biloxi has millions of dollars in construction in progress along Beach Boulevard, including a new tower at Hard Rock Casino and renovations to Golden Nugget Casino and White House Hotel. Most of the commercial land on the beach is in Harrison County. Hancock and Jackson counties have primarily residential lots and homes for sale.

Harry Schmidt at the Jackson County Economic Development Foundation said Pascagoula is creating waterfront mixed-use development on the Pascagoula River. The site is ready to build, he said, and the city is looking for investors to start the first phase of construction of a combined office, retail and commercial development with residential on the site or nearby.