Archives department to decide future of downtown building|[02/24/07]

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 24, 2007

Whether the city will get the go-ahead to repair the exterior of an abandoned property in Vicksburg’s historic district will soon be in the hands of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, said Victor Gray-Lewis, director of the city’s building and inspections division.

Gray-Lewis requested in Friday’s city board meeting that the Board of Mayor and Aldermen issue a letter to the state department, which will decide whether the building at 913 Washington St., which belongs to former Vicksburg resident Joseph Farris, should be repaired. The board agreed to issue the letter.

Gray-Lewis said the property, formerly the Monte Carlo lounge, is being demolished through neglect. Under a historic preservation ordinance, the city has the authority to take action.

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If the state department determines the property needs attention, the city will then be authorized to repair the exterior, making it water-tight, Gray-Lewis said. Any expenses the city incurs will accrue as a tax lien on the property, he added.

Farris, who is in his 80s, lives in California and has been unable to come back to Vicksburg to maintain the property, Gray-Lewis said. Farris’ attempts to have workers repair it have failed.

Farris was notified by a certified letter from the city that action was being taken to repair the building.

If the building were not in the historic district and identified as a historic landmark or building, demolition would be a possibility. But, Gray-Lewis said the ordinance protects historic sites.

&#8220This helps protect these wonderful historic buildings that add to the streetscape – instead of having all these holes where a wonderful building once stood,” he said.