Jackson County

That ‘hideous hotel’ in Jackson County may be around for awhile

Jackson County is finally able to tackle the hotel that burned in 2012, and continued to rot away as neighbors complained.
Jackson County is finally able to tackle the hotel that burned in 2012, and continued to rot away as neighbors complained. klnelson@sunherald.com File

Jackson County picked a contractor from Forts Lake to tackle the Hideous Hotel.

R&A Construction, from east Jackson County, plans to get to work as soon as the county paperwork is signed.

“I hope we’re started before the end of the week,” said County Planning Director Michele Coats.

It has been a long time coming. The former Howard Johnson’s burned four years ago and has sat rotting ever since, while ownership and insurance were argued in court.

It’s a neighboring business that tagged it the “hideous hotel,” because of the condition and the effect on property values in the area.

The county waited four years for the court issues to be cleared up, Coats said. “We had to wait to know whose taxes to put the cost on.”

Now the county is restricted by state law to $20,000 a year for demolishing such a menace to public health, so that’s what R&A will use — $14,600 to knock it down and about $5,000 for a load or two to a special landfill that will take burned material.

R&A plans to pull the usable concrete from the three-story building and recycle it in its business.

But the burned material can’t just be hauled to any landfill. And each load is expensive when a landfill takes it, county planners said.

So what we’ll see shortly is a pile of debris where the hotel has sat ruined and rotting on prime property north of Ocean Springs, near Interstate 10.

The county will be able to invest another $20,000 in the project in January, and that’s when west Jackson County neighbors will see real movement.

The immediate scope is to take down the building, Coats said.

“What the contractor doesn’t take, is going to be left to be disposed of,” she said. “That’s the very expensive part.”

“You won’t see a big difference in the debris pile at first,” she said.

The county is also hoping to get special legislation passed that will allow it to spend more than the $20,000 cap set on counties dealing with menace property. The county is allowed to put a lien on the property up to $20,000 a year and charge it to the property owner.

“Hopefully the legislation passes and we get it cleaned up and ready for development,” she said. “We’ve talked to two different potential developers that want to bundle land with land around the hotel, but couldn’t get the deal done with all the legal issues surrounding the property.”

Looking forward, she said, maybe it will be another hotel, or how about a big retail store?