Potential developers must be vetted carefully to prevent another blight

Published 7:13 pm Tuesday, June 19, 2018

The final chapter for Kuhn Memorial Hospital is about begin.

The former city and state hospital property that has been a thorn in the city’s side for almost 20 years and at one time or another was proposed to be a veterans’ home, juvenile psychiatric facility, a clinic and assisted living facility, even a county jail site, is set to be razed, or as Mayor George Flaggs Jr. put it, “Flattened.”

In some ways, it’s a sad end to a property that has been a part of the city’s history. Many residents were born at the hospital during its time as a city and state facility. The state owned the property from 1956 to 1989 before returning it to the city, and that’s when the property’s demise began. The two buildings on the property sat idle and deteriorated as one idea or another was tossed out as a way to reclaim and transform the property for some useful purpose.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

When the last plan fell through, the property was donated to a nonprofit agency. In the last few years, Kuhn stayed in the news as the city took steps to acquire the site. If finally took ownership of the property in November.

And now, with the contractor selected to take the buildings down and clear the property, the question is what happens next.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen in April 2017 approved a resolution adopting and authorizing a 33-page urban renewal plan to develop the property into a multipurpose residential/commercial development with recreational facilities — a good use for the property given the need for affordable housing in Vicksburg.

But the board’s plan has one provision. It needs a nonprofit organization or a developer willing to take the property over and develop it. That could be a tall order, and it will need someone with the funding and ability to move in and get started on the project immediately.

With some luck, the city will find the developer it’s looking for, but it needs to be cautious. The board will need to examine any company proposing a plan carefully to ensure it can deliver on its promises.

During its years of idleness, Kuhn Memorial Hospital deteriorated into an eyesore. The last thing we need is for the property on which it once stood to become another blight on the community.