UMG to Build $1.2 Billion ‘Music-Based’ Resort in Biloxi
By Daniel Kentsol
Credit Universal Music Group
They announced in June a $1.2 billion casino resort would be built on the Broadwater site in Biloxi, and on Friday Universal Music Group said Biloxi will be one of the first three locations that will launch its new UMUSIC Hotels.
The first hotels — in Biloxi, Atlanta and Orlando — will embody each location’s unique spirit and draw inspiration from their local culture, according to a Friday morning press release. Biloxi is the only location where a casino is allowed.
The UMUSIC Broadwater Hotel in Biloxi will provide a “stunning” performance venue and a luxury hotel with an immersive architecture style, the company said.
In June, the Biloxi council approved a tourism tax incentive to redevelop the 266-acre property with a casino, golf course, hotel, spa and other amenities, according to the city resolution.
At $1.2 billion, the resort would be the most expensive ever built in South Mississippi. The estimated cost of the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino was $750 million to $800 million when Steve Wynn opened it in Biloxi in 1999.
The proposed $1 billion Tivoli casino was never built in Biloxi.
The resorts will be designed to be “creative hubs in communities around the world — promoting positive social change, education and innovation through the power of music,” the press release said.
Biloxi’s hotel design show a sleek silver semi-circular hotel with glass spanning most of the front of the hotel. A massive video board is centered in the glass and will be visible by boaters in the Mississippi Sound.
The renderings also show a restored Broadwater Marina that was damaged 15 years ago during Hurricane Katrina.
“Every destination holds a great story just waiting to be told through its cultural heritage and its music,” said Robert Lavia, chairman at Dakia U-Ventures, which is partnering to build the hotels. “Through this new concept, we will both help people discover new ways to channel their love for music and the arts and help empower the transformation of communities worldwide through cultural, inspirational, creative and conscious collaboration.”
WHO IS UNIVERSAL MUSIC?
On its website, UMG is described as “the world leader in music-based entertainment,” and is involved in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries.
Music lovers know UMG owns the rights to the music of The Beatles and Michael Jackson and represents many of the biggest names in music across many genres — Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Bon Jovi, Andrea Bocelli, Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, Nasty C, Mariah Carey, Luke Bryan and the Escatawpa natives of 3 Doors Down.
The connection could bring more first class entertainment to South Mississippi and bring more international attention and visitors to the Coast.
“We choose cities that are inviting and influential, ones that are rich in music culture — where there’s always more to discover,” UMG said Friday.
If it were purely about music, one of the first three UMUSIC Hotels might be coming to Memphis, Tennessee, or Austin, Texas. What Biloxi brings is both a rich music history and an approved casino site. “Music and entertainment have always been a part of Biloxi DNA,” said Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich. Elvis played and stayed in and around Biloxi in the late 1950s. Jayne Mansfield played her final show in Biloxi before she died in a car accident. Jimmy Buffett says his first professional gig was in Biloxi, and Biloxi was on the circuit for many jazz and blues musicians.
The rendering for the new hotel shows it hugging Beach Boulevard on the sprawling property. Casinos must be within 800 feet of the high water line, according to Mississippi regulations.
A casino also has to have at least 300 hotel rooms, a fine dining restaurant and some type of amenity that will draw new people to the market so it will add business rather than just taking away from the 12 existing casinos in South Mississippi.
A representative of the project brought preliminary plans for the resort to the Mississippi Gaming Commission a few months ago, said executive director Allen Godfrey. “They have not come to us with a proposal,” he said Friday.
LIFTING THE COAST
UMUSIC Hotels will create jobs for local residents, support local businesses and suppliers and provide opportunities for local artists, such as the establishment of new state-of-the-art music venues, the company said. The original estimate was for more than 2,500 full- and part-time jobs to staff the hotel, music venue, casino and golf course.
There has long been talk of providing the right mix of amenities and attractions to elevate Coastal Mississippi to the status of a “premier destination.”
With its focus on music and the arts, and the culture and community of Biloxi, “This development will offer incredible experiences for visitors of all ages and groups,” said Milton Segarra, CEO of Coastal Mississippi tourism promotion agency for South Mississippi.
“Despite the challenges we have been facing, we are seeing a substantial amount of private sector investments and impending disbursements, and Coastal Mississippi is looking at an extremely prosperous future,” he said. The casino industry has provided jobs and a tremendous amount of revenue to Mississippi, said Gov. Tate Reeves.
“This will be a great partnership that will provide a lot of fun and economic growth for the people of Mississippi!,” he said.