CLINTON, Miss. (WLBT) - Matt Wiggins has owned the properties at 110 and 112 West Leake Street in Clinton since 2016.
His attorneys, Francis Springer and Michael Cory, say the buildings were badly degraded when he got them. Within weeks of his acquisition, the city came after him with code complaints, they say.
“Within three weeks of getting the property in the dilapidated state, his first meaningful interaction is a letter threatening he’s going to be subject to code enforcement,” said Cory.
Clinton Mayor Phil Fisher said the problem from his perspective was that nothing was being done to the historical buildings that needed extensive renovation.
“He was just letting them fall to the ground with no intent to restore the building,” Fisher said.
Springer and Cory say the city is gunning for Wiggins, possibly because of others interested in the property.
“It’s apparently, to me in everything that I know, it’s targeted," Springer said. "The two buildings are very historic to Clinton. We understand that and Mr. Wiggins understands that. That’s why he wanted to invest in them and rebuild them.”
The city issued Wiggins around 1,400 code violations fines, but only two held up in court. So the city took over some of the repairs, like working on the roof so the rain wouldn’t continue to destroy the inside while the buildings sat dormant.
Fisher says he thinks Wiggins might be trying to spite the city.
“We’ve been chasing this thing through every legal channel we can, and now that it’s in the supreme court, it’s time to make a decision," he said. "Either the city has the right to preserve its buildings and protect its historic past, or the owners have the right to let it fall to the ground with no effort to restore it.”
There's still plenty of legal process to go through before the situation is sorted out. Meanwhile, the buildings continue to sit empty in the middle of downtown.