Front Beach was the charming door to downtown Bay St. Louis. With the bay side lined with small shops and restaurants, and more of the same on the west side of the beachfront road, it was a small-town mecca for arts, socializing, shopping and eating. |
Katrina gouged out the road, the sandy bluffs and any buildings on the bay. The west side didn't fare much better, although shells of a few buildings still stand.
"It's important to save the charm of Bay St. Louis," said Mayor Eddie Favre. "Prior to Katrina we had the best of all worlds but still had the small-town charm, and we're not willing to sacrifice that. Some have expressed concern that we would sell out to casinos and high-rise condominiums, but we're not for sale.
"Even though we lost some of the historical structure, we can restore some of that look by encouraging folks, as they develop and rebuild, to pick a pre-Camille, not pre-Katrina, fašade on the beachfront and on Main Street.
"We may not be able to restore the buildings themselves, but we can have a similar appearance by tying into the Governor's Commission (on Recovery, Rebuilding and Renewal) and some of the tools we have available, like SmartCodes, to guarantee mixed use and architectural design."
Such codes allow uniformity of rebuilding.
"There is hope," Favre said. "I can pretty much guarantee that we're not looking at anything like high-rise in the downtown area. We're not willing to give up what made Bay St. Louis a place apart."