About a month after the City of Petal turned down the donation of the former McDonald’s building on East Central Avenue in Petal, the Petal School District has stepped in to take ownership of the building.
District Superintendent Matt Dillon said school officials are kicking around a few ideas for the building, which was donated by former owner David McKellar. Some possible uses include meeting space during the day and student activities during the afternoons and summer breaks.
“We’re really on the initial stages of developing a detailed plan of how we want to use the facility,” Dillon said. “We’ve also talked about how during the day, our Career and Technical Education and potentially some Special Services classes could use the facility for life skills and job skills and things of that nature.
“What I envision is that you’re going to see a lot of traffic around this building for school use, during the day and during the evenings.”
Because the building has been sitting vacant for several years – ever since McDonald’s moved to its new location on the Evelyn Gandy Parkway – school district officials will need to conduct some minor renovations and cleanup.
“But the bones of the building are really good,” Dillon said. “We had our crew inspect it, and one of the first things we’re going to do is clean up the exterior and make it look more presentable.
“Then we’re going to start in phases working on the interior, based on what our budget allows us to do. So that’s Phase I, and then we’ll move forward with Phase II as we budget for that moving forward.”
If all goes according to plan, exterior upgrades will start in January, followed by interior work in the spring. Officials then hope to have the building ready for the summer to host summer activities.
“We’re very grateful to have this opportunity to have more space, as we’re a district that needs more room to expand with different offerings and opportunities,” Dillon said. “To have a property adjacent to our office, it makes a lot of sense for our district.”
At a board meeting in mid-November, the Petal Board of Aldermen denied McKellar’s proposed donation of the property to the city, with Mayor Hal Marx and board members suggesting the city would have no use for the building.
“I know it’s got some issues perhaps where it needs to be renovated or repaired,” Marx said at that meeting. “I’d just hate for the city to have to take on the expense when we don’t have any use for it. I’d rather see it stay a commercial property, and eventually have a business in it that generates tax revenue.”