Jimmy Buffett-themed casino gets approval from Biloxi boards

Published 10:25 pm Saturday, July 7, 2007

Plans for the Harrah’s Margaritaville Casino have won approval from the Biloxi Architectural Review Commission and the city planning commission.

“This is a good step,” Hal Lamoreaux, Harrah’s Entertainment Central Division project director, said Thursday after planning commission approval of changes to the design of the casino.

The changes now go to the city council. With council approval, developers can apply for permits and begin construction of the $700 million casino resort on 47 acres in Biloxi.

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Pascagoula native Jimmy Buffett, the chief “parrothead” known for his lazy-day beach songs such as “Margaritaville” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” is one of the resort’s backers.

The project is expected to be finished in early 2010.

Instead of tall buildings, the resort will spread out along the beachfront from the Casino Magic property to the Grand Biloxi. Two pedestrian overpasses will cross U.S. 90 and connect Margaritaville to Harrah’s Grand Biloxi.

Senior project manager Mark Waggoner of Marnell Corrao Associates told planners on Thursday that the hotel “takes flavor from Key West,” with octagonal towers and dormer windows that reflect Buffett’s memories and his songs.

“He wants it to be very carefully designed and detailed,” said Waggoner.

A variance was required for three marquees that will be placed at both ends and the center porte-cochere. Waggoner said they will be designed similar to properties in Las Vegas, where the signs take on the design flair of the property.

Detailing plans for the resort, Waggoner said Casino Magic will be renovated with 378 guest rooms and a new spa and salon. Grand Biloxi has an additional 494 rooms and Margaritaville will include a 420-room hotel with an outdoor shopping village, casino, meeting and convention space, ballroom and restaurants.