June 20, 2019 10:39:56 AM
Columbus has a well-deserved reputation for preserving its historic buildings, so the decision to demolish a home built in the 1830s to make way for a major redevelopment project did not come without considerable scrutiny.
Columbus Redevelopment Authority President John Acker confirmed that the Taylor-Burns house will be demolished as part of its Burns Bottom Redevelopment plan. The CRA purchased the home, along with another 69 lots, in the Burns Bottom area north of Main Street and east of Fifth Street, an area noted by its blighted conditions.
In many cases, this kind of situation would be considered a conflict between preservation and progress, but the process pursued by both the CRA and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History should satisfy all such concerns.
The home should be demolished in July, removing a major obstacle in the project that emerged 15 months ago when MDAH informed the CRA that the property was being considered for landmark status, which would have prevented demolition.
Ultimately, MDAH declined to provide that status, which cleared the way for its demolition.
Mindful of some objections to the demolition, the CRA went beyond the requirements, listing the property for 45 days to see if anyone wanted to buy and renovated the old house, which has long been in a state of near collapse.
According to the listing agent, there were no serious inquires. The condition of the house was simply too bad to justify any attempt to save it.
If the Taylor-Burns house was to have been preserved, that effort should have started many, many years ago.
Attention now shifts to what happens next.
With about 10 other privately-owned parcels in the area still yet to be purchased, the Burns Bottom Redevelopment project still has some obstacles to clear, but none have the complexity presented in the Taylor-Burns house situation.
Strategically, the project is the last big step for the progress of downtown. With the Columbus Riverwalk and Columbus Soccer Complex completed and the Terry Brown Amphitheater project proceeding, the redevelopment of this blighted area will complement the assets we already enjoy downtown. Each project complements the others and a redeveloped Burns Bottom will continue to raise the profile of our downtown.
Although it will likely be years in the making, the Burns Bottom Redevelopment, if executed properly, will be a welcomed addition and will round out what we believe is one of the best downtown areas in Mississippi.
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