October 28, 2020

City set to demolish old, eyesore state charity hospital building

City officials will hold a 10 a.m. ceremony Wednesday to mark the start of the demolition of the Kuhn Memorial Hospital buildings, 1422 Martin Luther King Blvd.

“I can’t wait; that’s been a long time coming,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said. Flaggs announced the program at the start of Monday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

According to information from the city, a brief program will precede the demolition.

The board in September approved a contract with M&M Services to remove the asbestos and raze the buildings on the 12.8-acre property.

The $749,990 project cost is being paid through a combination of city funds and a $460,000 federal Brownfields grant provided through the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

The company began work in December removing asbestos in both buildings. That work has been completed.

A city-owned building, Kuhn was funded and operated by the state of Mississippi as a charity hospital until 1989.

In 1993, the building was considered as a possible veterans home. In 1994, it was considered for a possible 38-bed adolescent psychiatric ward, and later as the possible site for a 100-bed clinic and assisted living center.

In 2000, the Lassiter-Studdard Group Inc., which owned the property at the time, donated it to the Esther Stewart Buford Foundation.

Since then, the property was sold six times for taxes, and city officials tried for at least the past 10 years to get the property owner to clean the property and demolish or renovate the buildings on the site. The board on July 6, 2017, put the 12.8-acre property under the city’s slum clearance ordinance in a move to step up its efforts to remove the complex’s main building.

When the parties with an interest in the property failed to present plans to either raze or renovate the buildings by September, it cleared the way for the city to begin the process for their demolition.

Flaggs said several developers have expressed an interest in the property.