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Committee to review Kuhn property proposals

A five-member committee will examine two proposals to develop the Kuhn Memorial Hospital site on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard into a multi-purpose residential community.

The proposals from Joseph E. Williams Jr. and the Living Word Community Land Trust Corp. were taken under advisement by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen Friday.

The committee of assistant public works director Jeff Richardson, accounting director Doug Whittington, city attorney Nancy Thomas, housing director Gertrude Young and Fire Chief Craig Danczyk was appointed by Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to reviews the proposals.

The board is expected to approve the committee members Nov. 4.

“This is progress,” Flaggs said. “Last time we didn’t get anything.”

In April 2016, the city approved a resolution adopting and authorizing an urban renewal plan for the property that included finding a developer or nonprofit agency to develop it into a multipurpose residential/commercial development with recreational facilities.

The board in May advertised for proposals to develop the property but no one submitted plans by the August deadline. It was later readvertised.

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

The board on July 6, 2017, 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 2017, it cleared the way for the city to begin the process for demolition.

The city officially took title to the Kuhn property Nov.1, 2017, after reaching agreements with the four parties that had interests 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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