That digging going on behind Woody’s Roadside in Ocean Springs is for a brand new restaurant, and it’s just part of the $116 million in new development that has kicked off to date this year.

A $1.8 million building permit was issued by Ocean Springs to rebuild Woody’s Roadsidebehind the existing restaurant. The new restaurant will have the same concept and menu, said Ryan Glouner, assistant general manager. It also will be a little bigger with outdoor seating and more parking,

“That’s one of the reasons we’re doing it,” he said, since parking is at a premium at the popular restaurant along U.S. 90. Construction is expected to take 11 months and, he said, the new building will be as close to opening as possible before the current restaurant closes and comes down.

Millions in construction is adding choices for food and fun on the Coast, such as Mississippi Aquarium coming up in Gulfport and more than $20 million in development on the way to Edgewater Mall. Premier Cinema is expected to open in November, said mall manager Terry Powell, and a new Sky Zone Trampoline Park with windows to the mall in the spring. “And there’s more to come,” Powell said.

The Beach Casino at Island View Casino Resort has announced it will open in late June, and casinos across the Coast are preparing to renovate and offer sports betting, possibly by late July.

Mississippi will have at least a full year’s advantage over competitors in the region, said Milton Segarra, chief executive officer of Visit South Mississippi, since it’s one of the first states to legalize sports betting. The average person who bets on sports is 32-35 years old, he said, and with an average income of $75,000 or higher, it creates the potential for the area to become a new “Las Vegas of sports betting.”

Those sports fans will be able to drive a go-kart at the newly-opened Finishline Performance Karting on U.S. 90 in Biloxi but may have to wait for a proposed high-rise go-kart track on Veterans Avenue.

The restaurant on the corner of U.S. 90 and Veterans Avenue was demolished to make room for the track, but Brandon Wooldridge with RW Development said he’s working with the city on challenges with utilities and parking at the site.

Meanwhile, his plans continue for a two-story laser tag at Big Play Entertainment Center, he said, and for an RV park north of the railroad tracks complete with a playground, basketball court, swimming pool and pickleball.

Plans also changed for the use of the old Walmart building on Pass Road in Biloxi. Owner Ken Smith with NM Markup in Dallas said he plans to convert the building into about 40,000 square feet of retail space and 80,000 square feet of climate-controlled storage, with covered RV and boat storage.

More than $9 million in commercial building permits were issued in May, according to the Treen Report. Among them are:

▪ $1.5 million for commercial retail center, 6835 N. Washington Ave., Ocean Springs

▪ $1.3 million for slurry processing building at The Chemours Co., 7685 Kiln DeLisle Road, Pass Christian

▪ $1.1 million for 15,625-square-foot commercial building for Rhodes Rentals, 6217 Washington Ave., Ocean Springs

▪ $570,000 for renovation at Central Elementary School, 1100 Dupont Ave., Pascagoula

▪ $526,000 for renovation of iLOV305 bar at Hard Rock Casino Biloxi

▪ $297,000 for renovation at Eastlawn Elementary School, 2611 Ingalls Ave., Pascagoula

▪ $225,000 for renovation of dining room and restrooms at McDonald’s, 11401 U.S. 49, Gulfport

▪ $225,000 for renovation of motel rooms at 16329 Mississippi 603, Kiln

▪ $146,000 for renovation of chem lab at St. Stanislaus School, Bay St Louis

▪ $90,000 for renovation and addition to pizza carryout at Love’s Travel Stop, Cedar Lake Road, Biloxi

▪ $25,000 for renovation of Fur Baby’s vet clinic, 17339 Mississippi 67, Biloxi

Mary Perez: 228-896-2354@MaryPerezSH