Jackson County

No bids for the million-dollar Ocean Springs lot; what’s next?

The old Swingster building, used after Hurricane Katrina to house volunteers who traveled to Ocean Springs to help rebuild, was razed for new development. No one submitted a bid that required a minimum of $1 million by the Monday deadline.
The old Swingster building, used after Hurricane Katrina to house volunteers who traveled to Ocean Springs to help rebuild, was razed for new development. No one submitted a bid that required a minimum of $1 million by the Monday deadline. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com File

It’s a shocker.

Jackson County didn’t get any offers for a prime piece of property it owns in downtown Ocean Springs.

The Swingster property at 1515 Government Street, near the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center, was up for sale by bid, with bidding to start at $1 million.

But by 1 p.m. Monday deadline, no one had submitted a bid.

The property is two acres that has 332 feet along Government Street, right in the thick of things in downtown Ocean Springs. It’s called the Swingster property because of a former industry there.

The county demolished the building that had been used to house volunteers in the years after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and put the lot up for sale.

The idea was to get it back on the county and city tax rolls and put money in the county coffers.

It didn’t happen Monday. So what’s next?

Supervisor Barry Cumbest said supervisors will have to discuss what to do next.

County Administrator Brian Fulton said the county can:

▪  Bid it again at the same $1 million price.

▪  Rebid it at a lower asking price.

▪  Find a real estate broker to push it.

▪  Request proposals, where companies or people submit ideas on developing it.

Mayor Connie Moran had asked the county, at first, to consider requests for proposals to better control how it would be developed.

However, in January, the county decided to go out for bids instead and let the market determine how it would be developed.

The price alone should mean something good is coming, supervisors said. And any developer would have to meet city planning requirements anyway.

“When a developer spends that kind of money, I guarantee you they’ll make the most of the property and it will be something very, very nice,” Supervisor Randy Bosarge said in January.

Downtown Ocean Springs is that valuable and that popular, Bosarge told the Sun Herald. Since the property went on the market early last year, the county has had calls from developers all over the state, he said.

About the lack of bids, Bosarge said, he wasn’t surprised, because the county did little or no advertising of the property.

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