City exploring options for former Carlstedt’s building

By HASKEL BURNS,

The former Carlstedt’s Wholesale Florist building on Bouie Street may not be down for the count just yet.

Rather than demolish the building, which was heavily damaged in the February 2013 E4 tornado that hit Hattiesburg and Petal, city officials are exploring other options for the facility for possible future use.

“The resolution that we asked for was demolition, but in reality, that building is so large that we’ll probably find some other kind of alternative for it,” said Andrew Ellard, director of Hattiesburg’s Urban Development Department. “The roof has a gaping hole, so it’s open to the elements as it is.

“So we’re (considering) rather than complete demolition, getting the roof taken off in a manner that salvages the building that’s left, and then securing the structure. That may be the best option, because it’s saving taxpayer dollars while eliminating a neighborhood blight, and also leaving an old structure for someone to come along and have a building with good bones that they can do something with.”

Back in March, Hattiesburg City Council members held a public hearing to determine whether the property was in such a state of uncleanliness as to be considered a menace to the public health and safety of the community. The owner of the property, which is listed as the Oscar G. Carlstedt Company in Jacksonville, Florida, reserved a right to file an answer to the issue and offer a defense at the hearing, but no one came forward on behalf of the property.

City officials can adjudicate the cost of any work done on the property, including penalties, back to the property.

“So that’s basically like a tax lien that runs with the property,” Ellard said. “So when somebody else does try to buy the property down the road, the city will be made whole at that point, in the same way that they’re made whole with taxes.”

The 2013 tornado blew off the back half of the Bouie Street building, destroying much of its equipment and merchandise, but Carlstedt’s employees were able to work out of refrigerated trucks for about two weeks afterward. The business moved to a temporary location on Scooba Street before relocating to the former Moose Lodge building on South Main Street in Petal in July 2013.

Unfortunately for the business, that building was hit by another tornado less than four years later, in January 2017. Since then, the business has operated out of the former Leaf River Sports building on the Evelyn Gandy Parkway. 

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