Kuhn finally coming down

Published 6:06 pm Monday, September 10, 2018

Workers and equipment for M&M Services Inc. of Jackson will soon be taking the two buildings on the Kuhn Memorial Hospital property down.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday authorized Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to sign a contract with M&M to remove the asbestos and raze the buildings on the 12.8-acre property. Under the contract, the company must start work in 10 days and complete the project in 180

days. The asbestos removal will be followed by the demolition.

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Community development director Victor Gray-Lewis said a pre-demolition conference on the project will be held Wednesday.

“Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah,” Flaggs said after the vote. “That’s a great day. I want a brick and I want to see it come down; I want to see it myself.”

M&M Services 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, and the balance will be covered by city funds.

The project was approved Aug. 23 by the Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality.

“I’m excited,” Gray-Lewis said after the meeting. “This has been going on for a long time. Hats off to this board for taking action, and hats off to them for getting the Brownfields assessment grant and the Brownfields grant for the demolition. We couldn’t do this without those grants.”

A city-owned building, Kuhn was 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, and later considered as the possible site for a 100-bed clinic and assisted living center.

In 2000, the Lassiter-Studdard Group Inc., which owned the property at the time, donated it to the Esther Stewart Buford Foundation.

Since then, 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. Flaggs said several developer have expressed an interest in the property.

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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