Contracts were awarded this week and construction is expected to begin soon on Infinity Science Center in southwest Hancock County, capping years of planning and fund-raising for the project.
Roy Anderson Corp. of Gulfport was awarded a $15.6 million contract this week to build Infinity, which will be located just west of the Mississippi Welcome Station at Interstate 10 and Mississippi 607. Executive architect on the project will be Eley Guild Hardy.
Infinity will consist of displays in three galleries dedicated to earth, space, and oceans. Infinity is envisioned as both educational and entertaining, featuring tours, activity-based simulated missions, and hands-on experiments.
An earlier study of the project’s chances of success and target audiences estimated Infinity could pull at least 260,000 visitors per year to Hancock County. Many of those could be school groups from Mississippi and other states.
The attraction is expected to draw revenues from admission costs and sales of food, beverages and merchandise.
Years ago, a non-profit charitable group called MAST, Inc. was founded to steer development of Infinity. It was originally headed by the late Leo Seal Jr., of Hancock Bank and Bay St. Louis. In 2004, Seal signed $3.25 million worth of projects for detail design services on Infinity.
Backers originally anticipated an early 2007 opening for Infinity, but financial setbacks and a flagging economy delayed things. Numerous corporate, governmental and individual donors have contributed to the project, and Stennis Space Center has played a pivotal role in the development.
Construction on the project is now expected to begin in early May, and completion is estimated in about 16 months.
BY J.R. Welsh
The Sea Coast Echo