By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – City workers on Tuesday began demolishing the Trace Inn complex on West Main Street, but it could take weeks before it entirely disappears.
The Public Works Department, which oversees the project, tore down the property’s northern-most building first. Barely visible from the road, the structure formerly housed a radio station.
Crews will move next to the one-story motels on the site before finally arriving at the largest building, a two-story brick hotel closest to the road. Because of its size and construction, the Public Works Department still must determine if it can demolish that structure itself or must hire a contractor, said Director Sid Russell.
No timeline exists for the demolition of the entire 5.5-acre lot, but Mayor Jack Reed Jr. said he hopes to have everything cleared by the end of the year.
Once one of the most popular tourist destinations in Tupelo, the Trace Inn has sat vacant and deteriorating for years after its most recent owner – JSK Hospitality – filed bankruptcy amid financial woes and a series of code violations.
The city had purchased the property for $1 at a foreclosure sale in March.
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” Reed said. “And this is a dramatic expression of the revitalization effort we’ve been talking about in Tupelo.”
This is the second-largest site the city has acquired this year. In February, Tupelo purchased the former Blair Street Apartment complex and two adjacent single-family homes. It demolished all of those structures and now will build a neighborhood park.
Unlike that project, however, the Trace Inn site likely will be marketed to private developers.
“We don’t know what the future holds,” Reed said, “but it could be a lot of things.”