Mayor lists 19 buildings he wants up to code

Published 7:26 pm Friday, April 5, 2019

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. has launched the first phase of his campaign to bring vacant commercial buildings up to code, releasing a list of 19 vacant and/or derelict buildings in the city, including the old post office building and the old Mercy/ ParkView Hospital.

Flaggs said he has asked community development director Victor Grey-Lewis to look at the buildings and determine if they are in violation of city building codes and determine how the city can help the owners get them back to code or developed.

At Monday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Flaggs said the city had too many vacant and derelict buildings, and he wanted to begin cracking down on commercial building owners who have let their properties run down like the board has been coming down on homeowners who have let their property run down.

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“I’m just trying to make our city look more attractive, and at the same time, try and get these people to not buy these buildings and let them run down,” he said. “I’m just trying to get people to become more motivated and encourage them to do something with these blighted commercial properties.”

Although he threatened in the meeting to raze commercial buildings that didn’t meet the code, Flaggs said instead of demolition he wants to see the buildings occupied “so they can get on the tax rolls and we can benefit and at the same time enhance the tourism attraction of the city. I don’t want to see them deteriorate.

“I’ll help with historic tax credits, abatement, that’s what I’m here for. If anybody wants to develop something around these buildings, we’re here; our doors are open. I’ll go to the state or wherever I can. I want to do whatever I can to get them funds. I’ll do whatever I can to make this city more attractive.

“I cannot hold the residents accountable and let the commercial folks go unnoticed.”

The seven-story old Mercy/ParkView Regional Medical Center building on the corner of McAuley Drive and Grove Street was built in 1957 and has been vacant since February 2002, when Merit Health River Region opened.

In August 2001, hospital officials said they were seeking a buyer for the hospital and were also discussing its possible donation to Alcorn State University, but talks with Alcorn failed.

At one time, the 330,000-square-foot building located on 16.27 acres off McAuley Drive was listed on the real estate website with a $2.1 million price.

The Flaggs said the building could be used a residential care home. “There’s a number of things that could happen, and I want to help them (the owners) if that’s what they want to do.

In 2011, Mountain of Faith Ministries promoted a plan to convert the nuns’ convent on the property into a homeless shelter, but the plan was later dropped after serious opposition by residents in neighboring Wildwood Subdivision.

The 83-year-old post office building on Crawford Street by City Hall closed for good in 2006. At one point in 2003, the city was close to acquiring the building at no charge, but the deal fell through, and the building was sold to a private party.

The 96-year-old former YMCA building on Clay Street was closed in 2002 when it was replaced by a new facility 267 YMCA Place off East Clay Street. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places as a part of Vicksburg’s National Register District.

Other buildings on the list include:

• 1214 Washington St.

• 1220 Washington St.

• 1222 Washington St.

• 1405 Washington St.

• 1420 Washington St.

• 1500 Washington St.

• 1501 Washington St.

• 1503 Washington St.

• 1505 Washington St.

• 1508 Washington St.

• 1510 Washington St.

• 1201 Clay St.

• The old A&P building at the corner of Clay Street and Mission 66.

• Old building at the corner of Clay Street and Mission 66.

• 1302 Clay St.

• Buildings in the area from 1800 to 2500 Washington Street.

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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