TUPELO • The City Council has cleared the way for the demolition of a onetime motel that was damaged in a 2017 fire.
By a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the council condemned the Town House Motel, located on South Gloster Street.
With the building deemed a public health menace, the city will have the authority to tear the structure down and assess the expense involved as a lien against the property.
During discussion on the matter, Tupelo Chief Operations Officer Don Lewis said the planned demolition will only target part of the structure, leaving an occupied rear building untouched.
Local attorney Bill Spencer appeared before the council Tuesday night on behalf of the Town House Motel’s owners, whom he said live on the property.
Filings with the Secretary of State’s Office indicate that Champak Kalyanji is the manager of the company associated with the Town House Motel, with an address listed at the South Gloster Street property.
According to Spencer, an insurance company denied coverage related to the damage caused by the fire and litigation remains ongoing.
Proceedings related to that lawsuit have been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. A hearing originally scheduled for this May was postponed.
“My clients do not have the funds to do the repairs themselves,” Spencer said.
Ward 2 Councilman Lynn Bryan urged the council to back the demolition decision, noting that the process will continue to allow opportunities for the property owners to resolve the longstanding problems before a demolition contract is finally awarded.
The city attorney, Ben Logan, noted that decisions have previously been delayed related to the Town House Motel.
“I think we’ve condemned it before, and we just didn’t go through with it,” Logan said.
The Town House Motel was the site of a 1994 murder involving the death of Floyd Melvin “Mike” McBride, who lived on the site as a property manager.
The property was also briefly in the public eye again after the shooting death of Antwun “Ronnie” Shumpert at the hands of a local police officer in 2016.
Local police had the motel under surveillance for drug activity at the time and began to follow Shumpert after he pulled into the motel and then left the property.