Iconic Swingster building in OS coming down

Iconic Swingster building in OS coming down

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - It's a downtown Ocean Springs structure with a storied past. Now, the final chapter is about to be written for the Swingster Building.

For decades, clothes and other garments were manufactured in the building until it closed in the 1990s. Then, the building transformed into Camp Victor, a home base for thousands of volunteers who came here to help the coast rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

The building and property are now owned by Jackson County. County leaders want it demolished so the land can be sold to a developer. Troy Ross is the supervisor that represents the area.

"It's been a building that's been in the downtown area that hasn't been meeting its fullest and best use for a long time now," Ross said.

Jon Biggs used to run Camp Victor. Nostalgia runs deep for him, but it's tempered by realism.

"It's functionally obsolete, so the highest value is the value of the land. Not the building anymore. So, as many memories as we have, it's time to move forward," Biggs lamented.

Moving forward includes a zoning change from industrial to commercial. Nearby business owners like the prospect. One of them is restauranteur Tien Vu.

"If they tear it down and make it into a business center or an apartment complex, it will help the business area," said Vu.

You can see the dilapidated building from the window of Shelton Jewelers. Inside, there's a feeling of anticipation for owner Cathy Reed.

"We're very excited. We're a destination store, and we would love to see other stores become one too. Of course, if it's residential, that just brings more people into the community," Reed explained.

Once the building comes down, a process that should begin later this year, and the lot is cleared and it's put up for sale as commercial property, what's it going to be worth?

"We have appraisals that came in anywhere between $900,000 to $1 million. So, in that range is going to be the asking price," said Ross.

Losing the building with the colorful murals won't be easy, but some say it's necessary. One of them is business owner Madison Talley.

"Looking out our window every day, we see that building, and while we wish something could be done to it as is, we understand demolishing it and starting fresh," said Talley.

To speed up the demolition process, city officials have agreed to waive the permit fee for the work. They would also like to be able to use the cleared property for parking at downtown events until the land is sold.

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