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Markham building being called an eyesore

Markham building has been in disrepair since before Katrina Markham building has been in disrepair since before Katrina
Markham building has been in disrepair since before Katrina Markham building has been in disrepair since before Katrina

What was once a historic building in downtown Gulfport has been vacant and deteriorating since Hurricane Katrina. The old Markham building has become a topic of discussion in the city.

The people of Gulfport are calling for action, but what's being done? Lenny Sawyer owns Sawyer Real Estate just across the street from the old Markham building.

"It's just an eyesore for downtown Gulfport," said Sawyer.

His company hasn't always been in this location. They moved in hopes that the property across the street would be restored.

"Unfortunately, the Markham has been sitting there vacant for 15, 18 years, and nobody's doing anything with it," said Sawyer.

The Markham building first opened its doors in 1927, but over the years has fallen into disrepair. Hurricane Katrina was the final straw that left it in the condition it is now. Tony Swigris says that it's easy to see what kind of shape the building is in.

"Especially like when it rains. I mean, you just see water coming out of the bottom of it. So there's got to be probably some extensive damage," said Swigris.

Swigris knows about repairing damage. He restored an old downtown building for his pizzeria and is currently working on restoring another. He thinks it's mainly hurting development in the area.

"Who else would want to build something next to it," said Swigris.

The property was purchased by a party in New Orleans just after Hurricane Katrina. Mayor Billy Hewes said he knows how important the structure is to the community.

"It's such a historic landmark, an iconic part of our skyline that if there's any way to repair or renovate it, we're hoping that someone can come along and do that soon," said Hewes.

A recent ordinance was passed to allow the city to take control over the property, but complications have since risen. Hewes said the city is ready to take action, and if need be, even tear it down.

"But, we'd really like to see it restored to its former glory," said Hewes.

The Gulfport City Council held an executive session, Wednesday. One of the items discussed was the Markham building, but no further decisions were made in the meeting.

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