City of Gulfport will inspect eyesore apartment complex

By Steve Phillips – bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - DeBuys Road is the boundary between Biloxi and Gulfport. Several media companies have a DeBuys Road address, including WLOX.

It also happens to be home to one of the most visible eyesores on the coast: Courtyard Apartments.

Little has been done to the dilapidated apartment buildings since the hurricane.

"It's been a real problem. It's a blight as far as appearance. It's not safe," said Barry Weyland.

Weyland lives in the neighboring Legacy Villas. A wooden privacy fence is all that separates the rundown apartments from the gated condominium community.

From the balconies, the blight is clearly visible to neighbors. But the safety issue is far more serious than the lack of eye appeal.

A fire in January of '08 destroyed part of the apartment complex and threatened the nearby Legacy Villas.

"It was very rainy. The fire department said the outcome could have been very, very different if the rain hadn't been there. And we were having soot and all kinds of burning debris that was coming over here. We had to evacuate all three of those buildings," Weyland recalled.

Gulfport Mayor George Schloegel wants all visible evidence of Katrina's damage removed or remedied before the upcoming fifth anniversary. That would include the Courtyard property.

"Our concerns are that it is unsafe and could pose a danger to the surrounding neighborhood. We want to be able to send inspectors in to see if we're right. We want to know what kind of condition this property is in," said the mayor's spokesman, Ryan LaFontaine.

Besides being a fire danger, the rundown apartment complex continues to attract vagrants seeking shelter. And though it's boarded-up on the side facing DeBuys Road, inside there's a large section that's wide open.

"We expect to be able to inspect it within a couple weeks, within a few weeks. Sooner rather than later," said LaFontaine.

If that city inspection determines the property is unsafe, the city council will be asked to give the administration the go ahead to either clean-up the site or demolish the buildings.

The cost would then be assessed to the owners.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.