Biloxi to hold meeting to discuss building demolition

Updated: Jun. 14, 2015 at 3:52 PM CDT
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BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A structure in Biloxi is being eyed by the city for demolition. City officials say it suffered irreparable damage during a fire, but some citizens are saying not so fast. Now, a meeting is scheduled to discuss the details.

The building on Porter Avenue is surrounded by progress and new construction. On its east, the Biloxi Visitors Center, on its west, the brand new Biloxi Lighthouse Park.

According to city spokesman, Vincent Creel, directly to its south is the country's 2nd oldest French Colonial Cemetery. So the city acquired the property in 2014. "So what we wanted to do was preserve this property. Unfortunately the house burned," said Creel.

After the fire, the city determined that it was time to propose a demolition. So, signs were placed making the announcement.

But not everyone was on board. "I just think it deserves a closer look before it's demolished," said Lolly Barnes.

Barnes is the director of the Mississippi Heritage Trust. She said she'd like to see numbers. "I'd like to see a structural report that tells me how severe the damage is and also I'd like to see cost estimate on what it would take to restore the building so that the city of Biloxi can make an informed decision as they go forward," said Barnes.

She officially filed an appeal and now the city will be holding a special meeting to discuss the next steps. According to Creel, those steps are going to be limited. He said the federal restrictions on the building make using the building a somewhat complicated affair.

"Number one is that it can have no commercial use. The second one is that if the city was to sell this house, we'd have to go through the federal process which means we would have to get fair market value and all the money would go to the federal government," said Creel.

But those aren't the only options. Creel said the public is free to go through the necessary processes to acquire the structure, and move it off the property. "And the city has no problem with that. That would help save the house," said Creel.

The meeting to discuss the fate of this building is Tuesday at 1:30 at City Hall.

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