JACKSON, Ms. (WLBT) – From the graffiti that reads ‘help one another or die’ on the back steps to the bins outside the main entrance, the Briarwood One office building has seen better days.
The building at the corner of Briarwood Drive and I-55 North Frontage Road was once home to a for-profit college, attorneys and other professionals.
Today, the facility’s main tenants are a handful of tramps.
Many of the dark windows that once set the building apart from the surrounding properties have now been broken out.
And since the electricity there was switched off, the underground car park has been under water, and it smells of sewage and garbage.
dr Roger Parkes, a dentist who has a practice nearby, is concerned about the impact the run-down facility will have on his street.
He is urging the city to intervene, saying the foreign landowner has refused to maintain the property.
“I’ve been there since about 1987 and the road is very safe. You can see it’s very clean and it’s a great place because it’s very convenient for the people who live in and around Jackson,” he said. “We have an IHOP. And we have a Chili’s over there. We have a Hampton Inn right across the street.”
“But this building, someone has to lock it down for the illegal activities that are happening here right now,” he said.
Parkes, who has led the cleanup along Briarwood, said the building has deteriorated significantly over the past five months, about a year after it was acquired by its current owner, Briarwood Realty Holding LLC.
According to Hinds County landroll filings, the Great Neck, NY company acquired the property in 2021. It was previously owned by 460 Briarwood Drive Holdings, LLC, in Maryland.
The latter told the Secretary of State in March that it “does not conduct business in Mississippi and is audibly relinquishing its authority to conduct business in the state.”
WLBT has contacted the current owners by phone and email found in the Secretary of State’s files but has received no reply.
According to Kohan’s website, Briarwood Realty Holding LLC is affiliated with Kohan Retail Investment Group, which owns Vicksburg Mall.
Briarwood One is located in Ward 2, which is represented by Jackson Councilwoman Angelique Lee.
According to the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s online traffic census maps, about 8,600 vehicles travel along Briarwood each day, while an additional 100,000 travel on the freeway.
“This is a major thoroughfare into this county coming straight off the freeway,” she said. “This just stands empty with holes all over the windows, you can see they’ve been blasted through the glass. It’s just an eyesore at first. But secondly, it’s not safe because it attracts unsavory people to the area.”
A handful of windows were smashed in the front of the building, as were the doors leading to the main entrance. More windows were knocked out at the back, as were the rear doors.
Looking through a window, there are clear signs of habitation, including a makeshift clothesline and food wrappers.
In front of the back entrance you can see piles of rubble, including a shopping cart and a leather sofa. There are also signs of drug use, with WLBT spotting a syringe in the parking lot.
A man who identified himself as Vomste said up to 30 or 40 people slept there at one time. He also said that a tramp living there steals from nearby shops just to bring them to the building.
Lee said she spoke to the city’s Department of Planning and Development and said the current owner and his registered agent have been served.
“We couldn’t … physically speak to them, but we gave them papers to let them know they had a certain amount of time to secure this building and clean it up,” she said. “We’re still awaiting that trial and could end up in court.”
Meanwhile, she said she directed Jackson’s trash department to come out and clean up as often as possible.
“Of course, being free, people know they are coming and dumping illegally. So we keep solid waste out here to collect garbage as much as possible. We also have outreach staff that occasionally come to this building to try and help the homeless… to see if they can help them find shelter.”
Lee and Parkes believe the building could be salvaged and restored.
Lee said she would like to see Briarwood One converted into condominiums.
For his part, Parkes says he’s spoken to a potential developer about the site. He also thinks the building’s unique shape has something to offer.
“The triangular shape is very interesting. And it has some architectural features that you couldn’t beat if it were in great condition,” he said. “It’s just that nothing lasts forever, right? But you can still preserve it. And it must not be a place for disease and all sorts of other illegal activities.”
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