Residents need to keep their properties up to code

Published 12:44 pm Friday, December 15, 2023

An old topic came before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen last Friday — the South Street Apartments.

But the issue before the board was not whether to take down the apartment complex at 1201 South St. It was a request from the pastor of a local church with a nonprofit real estate program who wanted the board to intervene on his behalf and influence the current property owners to sell the property to the church. One of the owners of Skyline Innovations, which owns South Street, says the property is not for sale. And, city Community Development officials say Skyline is keeping the property up and “getting their ducks in a row” to renovate the apartments.

The pastor’s request will be back before the board when it meets Monday.

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But my purpose here is not to debate the propriety of the board intervening in what is a private matter but to discuss the city’s problem with derelict properties.

In my opinion, the South Street Apartments and the old Mercy Hospital are poster children for the city’s problems involving vacant and derelict buildings and properties.

Skyline is the fourth party to own South Street since the city condemned and closed the property. Also known as the Triple Six Apartments, the apartment complex was at one time a luxury apartment complex. By the time the city condemned the property, it was an eyesore with residents complaining of mold, leaky plumbing and other problems.

The seven-story former 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 LoopNet.com with a $2.1 million price.

Discussing the building in April 2019, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said it could be used as a residential care home.

At this time, both these properties remain vacant as their owners work to determine how to make them active parts of the community.

Other properties in Vicksburg are not as notorious. They’re seen periodically when the board meets to review the list of properties — either vacant or inhabited — that need to be cleaned, repaired, renovated or demolished. Practically every meeting Community Development Director Jeff Richardson or one of the city’s code enforcement officers go through a list of properties in violation of city building and health codes and usually, the status on each is “not complied.”

It should not be that way. We should have enough pride in our property and our city to make sure we can do everything possible to keep our property up. Vicksburg is a tourist destination and the people going to the museums, the Vicksburg National Military Park, Sports Force Parks on the Mississippi and other areas in our city pass by our homes and businesses. We owe it to ourselves to present a good first impression.

The South Street Apartments and Mercy are problems, but their owners are keeping the properties up while trying to make them viable properties again. We can do the same at home.

 

 

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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