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Midway Hotel demolition well underway

Tuesday, May 14, 2024, 2:42 pm News Flash Archive

The demolition of the old Midway Hotel (which housed the Star Tailors store) in the 200 block of Carrollton Avenue is well underway. The building suffered major wind damage on March 15, 2024, when a large portion of the front second floor brick wall was blown down into the street, blocking traffic for several days along Carrollton Avenue.

The building, which in past times was a hotel, and then inhabited as long-term residential apartments, had viable retail stores on the first floor as recently as fifteen years ago.

But since then, it has fallen derelict, with major roof collapses, and apparently little or no maintenance performed.

The council had voted five years ago to demolish the eastern end of the building, but was thwarted by a lawsuit filed by the property owner, Larry "Blue" Neal.

During April 2024, the city council first discussed demolishing only the western end of the building where the collapse had occurred.

But the building actually consists of a jigsaw puzzle of buildings built up next to each other, making it impossible to cleanly demolish only one section.

Not much discussed was the fact that a larger portion of the rear wall and roof of the building had also collapsed in the last four months. These failures could not be seen from the Carrollton and Walthall Street sides of the building, but could be seen from Pearl Street, which runs along the rear of the building. The new collapses can be seen by comparing the January 2024 picture with a picture taken last week of the rear of the building.

As of late Monday afternoon, the demolition was well underway, though no demolition could yet be observed from the Carrollton Avenue or Walthall Street sides of the building. Instead, all the demolition appears to be taking place from the rear of the building facing Pearl Street, where there is a large empty back lot space. No doubt the plan is to make it possible to push the remaining walls back into the now-demolished building area.

Below are three pictures showing the demolition done so far. Notice that the exposed walls indicate that the building has been added on to repeatedly, with formerly exterior walls, including windows, buried in the composite building. It appears to be much more complicated than previously thought. Even portions presumed to be singular and intact now appear to have been built up over time. Meanwhile, the outward walls were made to appear as a single continuous building.

Recently, the building had been subdivided and deeded to three different principal owners: Darrian Johnson, Mary Smith Johnson, and Larry Blue Neal. Each owned a different, jigsaw puzzle shaped portion of the building.

The total appraised value on the tax property roll is $47,357, while the annual property tax in total is $1249.33

None of the three property owners has paid the taxes for the current year nor for the previous year, according to the current information on the Leflore County Tax Collector's website.

This year's taxes owed are:
Darrian Johnson, $474.57
Mary Smith Johnson, $174.40
Larry Blue Neal, $600.36

It is not clear how the city will pay for this demolition. The property will not be worth nearly as much as the costs, and the property owners are unlikely to pay those costs.

Already, though, some men can be seen collecting, cleaning, and stacking brick on pallets, in preparation for possibly selling them on the market as reclaimed bricks.

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

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