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Exclusive: Negotiations underway for state to acquire two hotels, defunct restaurant near Jackson fairgrounds

Documents show $10.2 million appropriated for acquisition, demolition of properties
Published: May. 12, 2021 at 9:36 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The state of Mississippi will soon spend millions to acquire and demolish three properties near the state fairgrounds, including two hotels still functioning but “needing a lot of work,” according to Agriculture and Commerce Commissioner Andy Gipson.

The area, located in the 300 block of Greymont Street, sits across the street from the fairgrounds. One property, the old Dennery’s Restaurant, has been abandoned for years.

The OYO Hotel and Regency Hotel remain open. Gipson has long considered those properties an eyesore to visitors.

“There’s more traffic that flows here than anywhere else in this state,” Gipson said, indicating the proximity of that property to Interstate 55. “We want it to be a beautiful picture window into the not only the State Fairgrounds, but to the Capital City.”

In 2018, Gov. Tate Reeves signed House Bill 766, which authorized the Department of Finance and Administration to purchase those properties for the Mississippi Fair Commission’s use.

“I envision a place perhaps with premier campsites, landscaped spaces, some buildings that would promote and highlight Mississippi agriculture and commerce,” Gipson said.

The commissioner said the state and those three owners are in the negotiation phase now, having already secured agreements in principle with two of them.

“The law says we get an appraisal, they get one and then we can pay them the average of the two, which is fair market value,” Gipson said.

The state has already gotten appraisals for the properties.

Last month, Reeves signed Senate Bill 2948, which appropriates $10.2 million to acquire and demolish those properties, implying not all of that money would go toward the purchase price.

While the commissioner hopes to get dirt moving later this summer, they also have other plans for the fairgrounds that start next week.

“We did not have water during the second half of the Dixie National Rodeo, which was the largest rodeo in America this year,” he said. “We are not going to let that happen again.”

Gipson said they’re going to start drilling test wells next week to eventually have their own dedicated water source for those on the fairgrounds.

He also indicated that well would be an emergency source for Jackson residents should issues with the city’s water supply arise again.

“Bottom line is we’re going to build our own city inside the Mississippi State Fairgrounds and make it the very best you can be to support our programs: agriculture and industry,” Gipson said.

3 On Your Side reached out to the owners of all three properties for comment on the negotiations. A woman identifying herself as the owner of the Regency Hotel said she did not want to discuss the matter.

Attempts to reach the owners of the former Dennery’s building and OYO Hotel were not successful.

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