Battlefield mall deal expected within 14 days

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 2, 2004

Battlefield Village mall, on North Frontage Road(File The Vicksburg Post)

[9/2/04]The bank that owns the former Battlefield Village mall says it expects to have a contract within 14 days to sell the long-vacant and deteriorating property along Vicksburg’s heavily traveled Interstate 20 corridor.

Dave Dickson, Vicksburg Division president of BancorpSouth, said the bank, which foreclosed on the property in March, has received several responses to its requests for proposals sent out last month.

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He would not discuss the specifics of those proposals, but said they are moving forward on selling property for redevelopment.

“We’re evaluating those (proposals) right now,” Dickson said. “I would say that we hopefully will have a contract signed within two weeks.”

The building, vacant since 1996, has been at the top of the city’s hit list since Mayor Laurence Leyens took office almost four years ago. Leyens pledged to have the building torn down or renovated before the end of his current term next summer. The city won court orders to proceed, but a federal bankruptcy filing stopped the process.

As part of that process, the owners, identified as J&V Properties, deeded the tract to BancorpSouth.

Leyens, who has worked with the bank to give the new owners more time to find a private business solution for the property, said that four proposals were for demolition and new retail development. Leyens also did not disclose any specifics.

“Battlefield mall will be down before the end of the year,” he said.

The building sits on a 23-acre site along the interstate between Halls Ferry Road and Indiana Avenue and is among the most highly visible properties in Vicksburg.

City of Vicksburg officials have sought demolition of the 42-year-old building for nearly six years.

The building has been declared unsafe for occupancy by city building inspectors, and previous owners had been fined for failing to comply with city fire codes.

Battlefield Village was built as Vicksburg’s first all-weather shopping center and operated successfully until tenants began shifting to the new Pemberton Square, which opened in 1985. The space was converted into U.S. Army Corps of Engineers offices in 1988, but those employees moved in 1996 into their new office building on East Clay.

A twin-cinema complex on the site was removed by J&V Properties in 2002, and a former Sears auto center became a motorcycle and four-wheeler dealership last year. RiverHills Bank has a branch office on part of the former mall parking lot. Trustmark National Bank operates a branch on an adjacent tract.