Future for Kuhn property remains unknown

Published 3:16 pm Tuesday, November 19, 2019

A decision regarding two proposals to develop the Kuhn Memorial Hospital property on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard was tabled Monday by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

On Oct. 28, the board received proposals from Joseph E. Williams Jr. and the Living Word Community Land Trust Corp. to develop the site.

Both were taken under advisement and referred to a special committee appointed by Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to review the plans and make a recommendation, but the committee asked to delay its report.

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Flaggs said one of the prospective bidders requested more time to see if he can get financing for the project. He said the board would act on the proposals at its Nov. 25 meeting, hinting the board may take action if no developer is found.

“At that time, if no bid is recommended by the committee, we plan to make some recommendations for that site,” Flaggs said.

Flaggs said after the meeting he will recommend a project at a 5:30 p.m. public hearing on the first Thursday in December. He would not discuss the full details of the plan but said it would include a green space and fitness and a civil rights park.

The proposals received by the board in October marked the second time the board has advertised for bids to develop Kuhn into a multiuse residential/commercial and recreation development.

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

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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