BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It is one of the most recognizable properties on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but the owner of the historic White House Hotel in Biloxi must make some decisions soon about its future.
Is the White House a coast landmark that should be saved at all costs or a longtime eyesore in need of demolition?
Community Development Director Jerry Creel assured WLOX News it's not the City of Biloxi's intention to have the historic structure torn down.
In fact, he said, from the city's standpoint, "We'd love to see it saved."
However, the dilapidated structure was recently added to the city's blighted properties list and the owner will be required to make some improvements.
The historic White House Hotel is showing its age. Peeling paint and mold, boarded windows and barren steel beams can be seen throughout the site.
"Our objective is not to see the building torn down. Our objective is to get it repaired," said Creel.
He walked throughout the site with the owner and a contractor last Friday and found the building is structurally sound.
But the city is calling for significant improvements.
"Rebuild the facade on the west end and then upgrade the main part of the building. Just give it a facelift on the outside. And if he did that, then we could work with him on the inside and give him more time," Creel explained.
"At one time, it was beautiful," said Joyce Kotulski, who's lived just two doors down from the White House Hotel since 1972.
Her home is listed as a Biloxi landmark, and she'd like to see the White House restored. But not necessarily as a hotel.
"I think the White House should remain the way it is and be restored. Maybe a retirement home or something to do with the military, since it's so close to the base," she said.
Owner J. Love told WLOX News even though there are no immediate project plans for the White House, he would like to see the landmark restored as a hotel.
He told us he's hopeful such a restoration can happen. And says financing prospects are beginning to loosen up a bit.
If repairs don't come soon, Jerry Creel says it's likely the property may wind-up under another section of the building ordinance which refers to demolition by neglect.
"And that's exactly what's happening here. The fact that it's not being repaired and not being maintained is just causing it to deteriorate on its own. And we need to take action now to keep it from completely deteriorating," said Creel.
He said the next step is to schedule a public hearing before the Biloxi City Council to discuss the White House property.