Contract to raze old Kuhn Hospital could be awarded Aug. 24

Published 5:11 pm Saturday, August 11, 2018

Pending approval by the Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen could award a contract to raze the buildings on the Kuhn Memorial Hospital property Aug. 24.

Community development director Victor Gray-Lewis said the commission meets Aug. 23 and is expected to approve the city’s plan to take the buildings down. The board Friday authorized Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to execute a Brownfields agreement order with the commission.

The board in May received bids from six companies to remove asbestos from the buildings and take them down. M&M Services Inc. of Jackson was the low bidder on the project with $749,990. The bid was $289,990 more than the $460,000 in Brownfields grant money available for the project.

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“We’re making an agreement with them (the commission) based on the work plan, and all of that goes before the commission,” Gray-Lewis said. “Once they sign off, then we can award the contract. And that point, the contractor will have, I believe, 10 days to start. After that, it’s going to be a matter of doing what we have to do and taking it down.”

He said the work will begin with the asbestos removal followed by the demolition.

The agreement starts the final chapter for the buildings on the property, which were owned by the city and funded and operated by the State of Mississippi as a charity hospital until 1989.

In 1993, the building was considered as a possible veterans home, and in 1994, it was considered for a possible 38-bed adolescent psychiatric ward.

In 1999, the building was sold to the Lassiter-Studdard Group Inc., which planned to open a 100-bed clinic and assisted living center.

The plans fell through, and in 2000 the company donated the building to the Esther Stewart Buford Foundation.

The property had been sold six times for taxes, and city officials tried for at least the past 10 years to get the property owner to clean the property and demolish or renovate the buildings on the site.

The board on July 6 put the 12.8-acre property under the city’s slum clearance ordinance in a move to step up its efforts to remove the complex’s main building.

When the parties with an interest in the property failed to present plans to either raze or renovate the buildings by September, it cleared the way for the city to begin the process for their demolition.

The city officially took title to the Kuhn property Nov.1 after reaching agreements with the four parties that had interests in the property.

The decision to acquire the property came after the board in April approved a resolution adopting and authorizing a 33-page urban renewal plan to first demolish the buildings on the property and clear it, then, begin the process of finding a developer or nonprofit agency to develop it into a multipurpose residential/commercial development with recreational facilities.

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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