Biloxi officials: eyesore property could be cleaned up soon

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - 120 Reynoir Street has seen better days. Located one block north of Beau Rivage and the Hard Rock, the building is a constant reminder of the damage left behind by Hurricane Katrina.

That reminder doesn't sit well with tourists like Aaron and Carolyn Wilkerson from Alabama. It hurts the city's image.

"A building that looks like that in this community, when all the rest of them are looking real nice and that one is looking poor, it's something you see right off when you're on this strip right here," Aaron said.

Donna Ethridge is visiting from Atlanta. She has a strong opinion on what should be done to the building.

"[It looks] very bad. It looks like nothing has been repaired since Katrina, so I think that whoever it is, should be forced to fix it," Ethridge said.

The building is owned by the heirs of New Orleans businessman Al Copeland, who died in 2009. Copeland also owned a Las Vegas based casino company. A court battle between the two heirs has left the property in legal limbo.

In the past, cleaning up eyesore properties like this has been a difficult job at best. But now, a new state law may make that job a little bit easier.

The man who will lead that effort is community development director Jerry Creel. Here's how the new law will help.

"We're allowed to go after the ugly buildings. The ones that are blighted; the ones that technically they could be in compliance with the code but because they are an eyesore, they are creating an adverse impact on the surrounding properties," Creel said. "So this building we're talking about is going to be good first test case for that law."

Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway couldn't agree more.

"It's been long enough and the time has come where we need to start putting some pressure on some people to get some changes."

There's no word yet when Jerry Creel will try to use the new law to get the property cleaned up, but he said it will be in the near future.

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