A Jackson County-hired contractor took a huge trackhoe to the burned out, three-story hotel south of Interstate 10 at North Washington Avenue on Thursday morning.
County leaders celebrated the move that has been four years in coming.
Neighbors and businesses in the area say the eyesore has hurt property values, been a haven for the homeless and doesn’t look good at the I-10 entrance to Ocean Springs and Biloxi’s casino row.
One tagged it the “hideous hotel.”
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The effort began in earnest at about 9 a.m. Thursday. Jackson County Supervisor Troy Ross took a hammer to it in a symbolic effort to show the county’s determination to get it removed.
The hotel fire, ruled an arson, remained in court over issues of insurance and ownership, keeping the county from taking any action to tear it down.
County Planning Director Michele Coats and Assistant Planning Director Marcus Catchot watched Thursday as years of work to get the owner to do something, culminated in the beginning of the end for the eyesore.
Coats said the county had to wait on the court to clear up issues of ownership to know whose taxes to charge the cost of demolition to.
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 Construction 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 will be left for now is a pile of debris where the hotel has sat ruined and rotting on prime property north of Ocean Springs.
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 of material off the property.