$1.6 billion port expansion plan to increase Mississippi’s demand for housing

The Mississippi State Port Authority has announced the go-ahead of a $1.6 billion plan to expand the local Port of Gulfport to become one of the largest container ports in the US.

This plan is expected to elevate the port a further 15 feet to a height of 25 feet above sea level and also encompass the construction of a new port to the south of the current site, reached by an raised bridge, meaning that a large portion of the area can be converted into a promenade, with restaurants and shopping facilities.

Having an undeniable effect on the local community, before the final decision was made the proposed port expansion was opened up for public scrutiny, with the Mississippi Development Authority and the port authorities holding various public meetings, backed up by a website which asked for public input on the plans. As Port Executive Director Don Allee explains, eventually the plans were finalized, "I think that adopting this particular master plan reflects that we did pay a considerable amount of attention to the community".

Following the destruction of the current port by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and with the Mississippi Development Authority announcing that the expansion will create around 6,000 jobs initially, it is easy to see why Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr has claimed that this is "a new beginning – it's about the biggest thing that's happened in this city in last 100 years." Not only this but Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi has announced that this would be only the beginning for the new port, with Gulfport Mississippi eventually able to "employ thousands and thousands of people".

This exciting future expansion of the port is set to also have a knock-on effect on the area's housing market, with rental properties already in relatively short supply. Gulf Coast Housing Director Gerald Blessey has previously announced that the region needs 25,000 new homes if they are to reach the levels of housing stock pre Hurricane Katrina and therefore this fact combined with the port expansion will mean that large numbers of local people will be in need of housing.

This high demand for housing is being addressed by projects like that of Bayside Park, where foreign investors are encouraged to invest in strong, energy-efficient homes for local workers and in turn benefit from the almost guaranteed rental returns. Danny Silver, Principal of Property Direct America the company behind the project explains,

"More than ever now the Gulf Coast area is in need of new housing and with the proposed port expansion now confirmed this is the very best time to invest in property projects like Bayside Park. Healthy rental returns are to be expected and with 90% LTV mortgages available, this is an opportunity not to be missed."