A $410 million Sports Illustrated mega-resort complex could soon be coming to the Mississippi coast, after the D’Iberville City Council signaled approval for the project Tuesday night.
The development, which was first reported by the Sun Herald, will be one of the first to pair the Sports Illustrated brand, best known for its magazines, with the trappings of a luxury resort — including multiple hotels, restaurants, shops and a beach.
The planned complex, currently known as Blue Water Beach, would be located on a 78-acre patch of land directly southwest of the intersection of interstates 10 and 110 in D’Iberville. The city council voted unanimously to support the development, along with agreeing to cover some of the building and infrastructure costs through bonds.
“The most celebrated name in sports has created a one-of-a-kind lifestyle hotel, resort & entertainment experience,” according to the website of Experiential Ventures Hospitality, the developer behind the Sports Illustrated concept.
Experiential Ventures CEO Christopher Schroeder said he expects people to travel to Blue Water Beach from across the region.
“One of the things about the project, it is an attraction. You know, we are doing something major down there that will bring in we believe people from a six-hour driving radius, literally,” Schroeder said.
A six hour radius could include cities as far away as Houston and Atlanta. It would take less than 3 hours to drive from Jackson.
Plans for the nearly half a billion dollar complex include three hotels, themed restaurants, retail shops, venues for live music and the potential for hosting festivals. All of these pieces will surround a central 11-acre artificial lagoon, which itself features a beach. Blue Water Beach would be located about 4 miles north of the coast.
“We’re bringing the nicest Caribbean water and beach you can find to the land, but void of sharks and all the other problems … (people) might experience in the gulf,” Schroeder said. “It is man-made. It has white sand beaches that will be rimmed by a number of experiential offerings, other smaller hotels, and the big Sports Illustrated complex.”
Schroeder said the incentives the developers are seeking from the city, county and state, including the bonds already approved by the city council, are appropriate because of the level of investment in the community and the fact that it will be a destination.
“The city approved some incentives for the project. I mean, it’s an over $400 million project, so we are looking to secure some incentives from the from the city, the state and the county,” Schroeder said. “We believe that it will be a big, big driver for the area and the state as far as jobs and the economy, etc.”
Next steps include securing incentives and gaining approval from the state and Harrison County, where the project would be located, Schroeder said. Ridgeland-based financial consulting firm Gouras and Associates is working with Experiential Ventures to secure government incentives. Gouras and Associates also worked with developers on a number of projects in Jackson, including The District and The Westin.
The gulf coast development is one of the first Sports Illustrated branded resorts since the magazine company announced in February its name would be used in “a brand-new premium resort and entertainment destination.”
Experiential Ventures said the first resort has already begun construction in the Dominican Republic. Another resort, in Orlando, is planned for 2024.
Schroeder said the developers of Blue Water Beach hope to begin construction by the beginning of 2023 and complete the project by the end of 2024, though he acknowledged ongoing supply chain issues make construction timelines hard to predict.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Sports Illustrated resort could bring $140M investment to MS coast