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Building official still expects demolition of Battlefield Mall

[01/25/01] Vicksburg officials say the vacant Battlefield Mall is expected to be taken down this spring, but recent activities at the building have nothing to do with those plans.

City Building Inspector Charles James said the owners of the property on North Frontage Road assured him last month that plans to tear down the dilapidated structure will move forward in the next 90 days. The city building inspector is responsible for issuing building and demolition permits within the municipal limits of Vicksburg.

“There’s probably some stuff in there that they can salvage,” James said based on his conversation with the owners. “But it’s going slow.”

Meanwhile, Ameristar Hotel and Casino has been responsible for the activity seen near the front of the complex in the last month.

The local casino rents the old Sears location in the mall and uses it for storage. Leslie Mabry, casino spokesman, said the company had no plans for the site except as a storage facility.

The 40-year-old structure is one of Vicksburg’s most visible sites for travelers on Interstate 20 and has been vacant since 1996. It was the area’s main shopping center until 1985 when Pemberton Square opened.

Jimmy Coggins of J&V Properties, Inc., the owners of the property, could not be reached.

A 90-day demolition permit for the complex was issued in July, but expired in October with no visible work on the property. James said the owners would now have to apply for a new permit to knock down any part of the building.

Coggins has said that possibilities for the property included a pedestrian shopping center or a drive-up-type hardware or grocery store.

The building and property are valued at $4.2 million and generate $71,000 in taxes each year, according to the Warren County Tax Assessor’s Office.

Since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers moved out of the mall four years ago, there has been only sporadic use of the property. The Salvation Army used the former Sears space as a distribution center at Christmas and carnivals infrequently rent the parking lot.