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Harrah’s Gulfport building may become home to nonprofits

The Harrah’s corporate building near Interstate 10 might become a nonprofit center on Oct. 19, creating a hub for community groups that were left homeless after Hurricane Katrina.

The Gulf Coast Business Council and Gulf Coast Community Foundation are expected to buy the building and 13-acre lot on Seaway Road for $2 million, significantly below an estimated value of $6 million. Eight tenants already are working in the building, which at 70,000 square feet offers room for more groups.

Organizations will pay below-market rates for rent. The central location also will let them save money by combining spaces for such activities as board meetings and office services such as accounting.

There are a few nonprofit centers across the country, say H. Rodger Wilder of the community foundation and John Harral, chairman of the business council’s building committee.

“I think it’s one of those ideas that’s beginning to catch on,” Wilder said.

The nonprofit Knight Foundation provided a $2 million grant that made the purchase possible. The Southern Company Charitable Trust has committed $1 million.

“Based on the interest we’ve seen, we’re optimistic enough nonprofits will be interested to fill the space,” Wilder said. “We’re hopeful we can make it attractive enough to nonprofits so they’ll want to move in.”