Mississippi City Evaluating Post-Tornado Teardowns One-by-One

September 11, 2014

Tupelo, Miss., city officials say they’re deciding whether to require demolition of buildings damaged by the April 28 tornado on a case-by-case basis.

Last week, the City Council ordered the owner of the Comfort Suites hotel in the hard-hit North Gloster Street commercial corridor to tear down the four-story building and clear debris within 120 days.

photo: Bill Kopitz/FEMA
photo: Bill Kopitz/FEMA

Development Services Director Shane Hooper told the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal that the city is communicating with property owners constantly to get updates on their plans.

“We’re constantly in communication with the property owners and getting updates on their plans,” he said. “In fact, we’re again contacting as many of them as we can (Monday) to get an idea of where they are in the process. .we know everybody’s situation is different, which is why we have to look at each situation individually.”

The request to take down the Comfort Suites was made out of a regard for caution, officials said. The hotel, while fenced off, is accessible by more than one entry point into the rest of the building.

“It’s also a wood-framed structure and it’s been open to the elements since April 28,” Hooper said.

Magnolia Bingo, a 22,000-square-foot building nearby, was side-swiped by the tornado and suffered significant damage. But the building hasn’t been condemned by the city for good reason, Hooper said.

“The biggest difference is that it’s a one-story building with no access to it,” he said. “It’s been boarded up. In addition, it’s a steel-framed building, not wood.”

The owner of the Magnolia Bingo building is V.M. Cleveland, a developer who also owns the Tupelo Furniture Market.

He said he plans to rebuild in the next 8-10 months.

“We’re going to rebuild it and make it a little bigger if we can,” he said. “We’re working with engineers and architects now on it.”

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