Owner of old TV shop gets more time to mull plans

Published 10:47 am Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Vicksburg businessman has about 41⁄2 months, to decide whether to sell, renovate or raze a Washington Street building.

The Board of Architectural Review issued the extension after a hearing Tuesday on Robert Johnson’s request to demolish a two-story building at the corner of Speed and Washington streets.

Johnson, who plans a used car business on the property, wants to replace the building smaller office building. The structure, at 2323 Washington St., was home to Busby & Sones TV and electronics repair shop from 1966 to 2009, according to city directories.

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Under the city’s historic district ordinance, the board must issue a stay on a demolition request to give an owner time to determine whether it is possible to save or remodel the building.

The board first reviewed Johnson’s application in January, but delayed action to give city Community Development Director Victor Gray-Lewis time to inspect the building to determine if it can be saved. The move cut Johnson’s time to decide from the standard 150 days to 129.

Gray-Lewis said Tuesday the building was in good shape, adding the only problem he could find was a hole in the roof and in the floor on the second story.

“It is repairable,” he said.

Johnson, however, said repairing the building was not an option.

“I’m not able to bring the building back,” he said. “It will take more than what I’m able to do to bring it back.”

Several members suggested Johnson sell the building, but he said he liked the property’s corner lot, because it was a good fit for his proposed car business.

Board member Dorwin Shields suggested removing the top floor and remodeling and using the ground floor portion of the building.

The board told Johnson he would have to present plans for razing the building for approval by the board.

In other action, the board:

• Denied Robert Rosenthal’s request to install wrought iron balconies on the Beck House. The board tabled his request for a wrought iron fence around the property until it could look at the fence’s design. Rosenthal said he wanted to add the fence to give the house a good look from the street.

City compliance issues involving the 139-year-old house have been the source of an ongoing battle between Rosenthal and city officials for 14 years. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen in December referred the matter to the city’s Community Court, which handles building code violations.

Since then, Rosenthal has been repairing the house, Gray-Lewis said.

• Approved the demolition of houses at 2123 Pearl St. and 501 Klein St. by the city. Both homes are in the historic district. The extension period was waived because Gray-Lewis said they presented a safety hazard.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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