The Mississippi cultural retail attraction program died in the Mississippi legislature in 2014, when the authorizing law expired without passage of an extension. Despite this end, one last holdout project is still alive and could receive more than $96 million from the program.

The Galleria received its third extension from the Mississippi Development Authority in July that moves the deadline for the start of construction to 2022. That’s nine years after the project was authorized in 2013 and eight years after the program ended.

The Gulf Coast Galleria is being developed by Coast developer Bob Mandal and Rise Partners of Chattanooga — which took over for original partner CBL Properties — at a site located at the junction of Interstates 10 and 110, which connects the primary artery with downtown Biloxi and the beaches at its terminus at U.S. 90.

There is some activity at the site, which has now been cleared. Two car dealerships owned by Mandal face I-10 and the city of D’Iberville has expanded D’Iberville Boulevard, which runs through the heart of the site before crossing I-10.

The project was authorized on December 19, 2013 by the MDA, with a minimum required investment of $50 million and an estimate of a $320 million capital investment by the developers.

The developers received their first extension from the MDA on December 17, 2015 that gave them a 60-day extension. 

The second was on January 11, 2016 that gave the developers until December 19, 2019 to begin construction. 

The latest one was approved by the MDA on July 27, 2018 and it expires on December 19, 2022.

Under the cultural retail attraction program, Mississippi returns 80 percent of the sales tax revenue to the developer until the total reaches 30 percent of construction costs. Each retail project in the program must offer either $1 million worth of state-related art, historic markers or audio-visual equipment, or host space for the MDA for 10 years for tourism promotion purposes.

There are two other projects that are receiving money under the program.

The $113 million DeSoto MidSouth Tourism Project LLC, which built the Tanger Outlets Southaven, has earned $6,972,588 of a possible $33,990,000 as of October 2018.

The Outlets of Mississippi in Pearl could receive up to $24 million on an $80 million investment.

There were other projects covered under the cultural retail attraction project that didn’t pan out, including one on property owned by the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority in Rankin County. It was approved for a rebate of $48.8 million for a $162.5 million investment.

The Mississippi legislature passed Senate Bill 2463 in 2013, expanding the existing sales tax rebate program to include cultural retail attractions. A bill to reauthorize the program died in the 2014 legislative session after the MDA approved more than $150 million in possible rebates.

With several projects still approved for the incentive program, there were several attempts by state Sen. David Blount (D-Jackson) to put the final nail in the cultural retail attraction program’s coffin. 

He filed a bill in 2016 to kill cultural retail projects that weren’t complete by July 1 of that year. It failed in committee. He tried again with an amendment to another bill, which increased the amount of the historic structure tax credit, to accomplish the same task. It passed the Senate, but was eliminated in conference.

The Mississippi legislature passed Senate Bill 2463 in 2013, expanding the existing sales tax rebate program to include “cultural retail attractions.” A bill to reauthorize the program died in the 2014 legislative session after the MDA approved more than $150 million in rebates.