Jackson County

People have some dreamy ideas for new development in Ocean Springs

Ocean Springs citizens and politicians are weighing in on what would be a good fit on the land where the old Swingster building on Government Street stands.
Ocean Springs citizens and politicians are weighing in on what would be a good fit on the land where the old Swingster building on Government Street stands. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com

What does Ocean Springs want to see on the old Swingster property after the building is torn down?

Even vacant, the 2-acre lot right in the thick of things in downtown Ocean Springs will be worth close to $1 million.

A recent Facebook post by Mayor Connie Moran attracted comments with dreamy ideas such as a Trader Joe’s store or a book store or a retail complex with artist lofts on top.

Other ideas: a community market, amusement park, tech company to attract the younger generation, a dog park, a bowling alley, or “anything revenue-producing, because Ocean Springs needs the tax base.”

Moran wants Jackson County to solicit proposals from developers instead of just taking the highest bidder, so the city and county would have more control over what goes there.

But it is county property and some county supervisors said they just want it sold to the highest bidder to get it back on the tax rolls. After all, it spent years in the service of a Lutheran nonprofit, housing volunteers to rebuild the Coast after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

County Supervisor Troy Ross said the market will likely dictate what it becomes. First the county will take down the building, then have the lot rezoned from industrial to commercial because, Ross said, industrial definitely isn’t the best fit for the city.

Brian Fulton, county administrator, said three developers already have approached the county. But the property is worth about $100,000 more with the sprawling building gone. So the county plans to tear it down by the end of the year.

Developers haven’t said what they would build on it, Fulton said.

“They’re just interested in purchasing the property, and we’re just interested in selling it,” he said.

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