Salvation Army Wins Dukate Property

The days are numbered for the old Dukate Elementary School on Howard Avenue. The Salvation Army is eager to take over the land and tear down the building, after winning the bid from the Biloxi School Board.

Geraldine Martin with the Biloxi Salvation Army said, "We're ecstatic. I was ecstatic. I appreciate the school board working with us."

The Salvation Army wants to turn the closed property into a Center of Hope. It would be a place where families can enjoy the arts and sports activities. But since the city of Biloxi also wanted the Dukate property for a new community center, a land swap between the charity and the city could be in the works.

Mayor A.J. Holloway said, "The city owns properties that maybe the Salvation Army could be interested in swapping for. I think we could work something out where everybody will be happy."

"We are talking to the city council and the mayor concerning a collaborative effort because none of us wants to duplicate services. So we are working with them to finalize the plans of what will be offered in our facility and what the mayor wants to do," Martin said.

Both sides are being very tight-lipped about the negotiations. While the talks are going on, the Salvation Army is moving ahead with its $22.5 million dollar project.

"We do have a prototype to go by, and we'll make some adjustments to that to make it a facility that we want here and make it a complete community center," Martin said.

The Salvation Army already has $19 million in donations to build the Center of Hope. Most of that amount came from the estate of Joan Kroc, the late McDonald's heiress.  The Salvation Army still needs to raise $3.5 million in matching funds for the project.