Editorials

Hideous or dangerous buildings have to go

How would you like to live next to this mess north of Ocean Springs?
How would you like to live next to this mess north of Ocean Springs? klnelson@sunherald.com File

First, the good news.

The Jackson County Board of Supervisors is taking an innovative approach to ridding the northern gateway to Ocean Springs of the infamous “hideous hotel,” the remains of the Howard Johnson’s that burned in 2012.

Supervisors declared the property near a menace to public health and are trying to finesse their way around the $20,000 limit on county spending for the demolition of the property by knocking it down in phases.

We wish them luck because history is not on their side.

Take, for instance, the Village at Henderson Point in Harrison County. It’s more or less a skeleton of a condo development that never fully developed. Neighbors aren’t happy with the view.

Harrison County Supervisors determined it was a blighted property and ordered it torn down on Oct. 3. By Oct. 13, the supervisors were on notice that the owners, 101 4th Ave. LLC of Staten Island, N.Y., intended to appeal the case to Circuit Court in Biloxi. That appeal is scheduled to be heard Sept. 21.

The attorney for 101 4th Ave. argues that the board exceeded its legal authority and says its blighted determination was “unsupported by substantial evidence” and was “arbitrary and capricious.”

He calls the board’s order an “unlawful taking without just compensation” that violates the U.S. and Mississippi constitutions.

An interesting case and one that could be costly to the taxpayers should the property owners prevail. And as you can see, Jackson County’s plans to have the hotel property looking substantially better by Thanksgiving could prove to be a bit ambitious. That property already has seen its share of court time.

But we urge the officials in all three Coast counties to keep up the fight against eyesores.

As a tourist destination, we have to deliver on our promises of paradise. And that means a paradise uninterrupted by burned, rotting or unfinished buildings.

Take Gulfport. Its downtown has become an exciting and colorful place to be. At least until you get to the east side. There visitors encounter the Markham Hotel.

Now, we’ve heard for years how that building is on the verge of becoming something grand. And yet, with the Mississippi Aquarium going up practically next door, there it sits, much as it has since Katrina — its windows and doors either boarded up or broken.

We’re not the only ones concerned about that building. It has worried neighbors downtown.

It’s time city officials turned up the heat on the building’s owners. It’s past time to see results there and at the Centennial Plaza, another place where promises of future grandeur remain unfulfilled.

Biloxi has had perhaps the most success. The White House has been restored. Margaritaville took over the empty Casino Magic building. And Santa Maria Del Mar is being turned into a Watermark Hotel.

But there are properties all along our Coast that could use that kind of tender loving care or a visit from a bulldozer.

The overwhelming majority of our business owners go to great lengths to make a great impression on our visitors. To allow others to do any less does us all a disservice.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.

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