PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. -- Just a stone's throw away from the beach at Pass Christian, Mimi Parker Thomas is tending to her jewelry and gift shop in the Sazerac Square Development.
"It opened in December and it's just like a Phoenix,” Thomas said.
It's one of several commercial ventures that have opened in the town in the years since Hurricane Katrina.
Developer Adam Pace is hoping to expand upon what he's built here.
"We have a couple of pieces of property we have offers in on now,” Pace said. “We're hoping everybody else could kind of fill in, and maybe they are interested in doing the same thing we have done."
But down the road, redevelopment is anything but robust. Lot after lot are for sale along stretches of Mississippi's beachfront.
Pass Christian is at the heart of it.
"We're the smallest town on the coast, but we've got the highest priced property on the coast,” said Mayor Leo “Chipper” McDermott. “So, that in itself is an equation that's tough to overcome."
McDermott said rebuilding on beachfront properties, where homes once stood, is slow-going because of several factors.
But the big one, he said, is the cost of insurance.
"That's the killer of all. No doubt about that,” McDermott said.
McDermott hopes millions of infrastructure improvements may convince potential buyers to purchase properties.
"The money we got in these towns has meant a lot to help come back,” McDermott said.
Parker Thomas hopes the development of shops, like hers, will serve as a beacon of building hope.
“It took people with the money and the foresight to see the town come back and the hope to give the people, because if the people see something, they are more likely to invest in the Pass,” Parker Thomas said.
And they hope to give the beachfront here another chance. McDermott said about $40 million, including federal recovery dollars, have been spent on infrastructure in Pass Christian.