Coming down Change to make way for storage facility

Published 12:06 pm Friday, December 17, 2010

An empty water tower above Vicksburg Compress buildings at 2400 Levee St., railroad tracks and cars is coming down.

The tower, built in the 1940s to hold water for fire suppression, is rusting and in danger of falling, Leland Speed, a Madison insurance and real estate agent representing the owner, told the city’s Board of Architectural Review.

“We would like to remove this structure because it’s no longer utilized … and it poses a danger to anybody that goes around the back side of the building because of the condition it’s in now,” Speed told the board before receiving unanimous approval.

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“It has deteriorated over time and it poses a public hazard,” board member Dorwin Shields said.

The property’s owner, Vicksburg Compress, will use it for a self-storage facility, Speed said.

The compress facility, which covers about 22 acres near where the Yazoo Diversion Canal meets the Mississippi River and dates to 1903, formerly housed a cotton gin press, 13 warehouses and sheds with about 340,000 square feet of storage space.

It has have been in poor shape because of water damage and asbestos following years of vacancy because its owners, investors from New York City, had gotten out of the cotton-trading business, said Speed, a nephew of former Mississippi Development Authority Leland R. Speed.

The younger Speed said demolishing some structures and restoring others will make way for the property to be used as a self-storage business.

“We’re trapped by the railroad,” he said. “We have to either utilize the river as a distribution center or change the structure into something that doesn’t need direct access at the drop of the dime. We’ve done a little research and found the self-storage facilities around here have a waiting list.”

The property is surrounded by Kansas City Southern railroad tracks, Anderson-Tully to the north and Smith Towing to the south.