TUPELO • A pair of historic buildings in downtown Tupelo owned by former Mayor Jason Shelton could be demolished soon.

People connected with the buildings on 306 North Spring St. and 218 North Spring St. have submitted a demolition permit to the city’s Development Services Department, according to City Attorney Ben Logan.

Shelton confirmed to the Daily Journal that he is selling the property on 306 North Spring Street this week to Bill Simpson, who will now be responsible for its future.

Shelton still owns the building on 218 North Spring Street, and he’s facing a deadline to either sell the property or demolish the building himself. The building, commonly referred to as the old Jefferson Davis Hotel, has some historic value and is a notable building in the area.

The former mayor said he's spoken with someone interested in purchasing the former hotel, but nothing concrete has happened yet. Shelton’s ultimate goal is to sell the property. If he is unable to find a buyer, he said he will demolish the property on his own.

“I don’t want to fight with the city on this,” Shelton said.

Shelton initially appealed the October condemnation order to the city's license commission on the basis that the city was acting outside its legal authority, but that appeal has been postponed indefinitely, according to a press release from City Hall.

Shelton does not contest that the buildings are in disrepair, but believes the buildings are worth preserving. He has also maintained that the current mayoral administration is targeting him politically with the condemnation orders.

“It’s beneath the dignity of the city to do something like this,” Shelton said.

Though he wasn't on the ballot during this year's mayoral election, the former Democratic mayor frequently criticized then-candidate Todd Jordan, a Republican, on social media. Shelton also endorsed Jordan’s opponent.

Logan said that the city’s primary concern is the safety of the public, but he wants to find a solution that both the city and Shelton can agree on.

On Oct. 8, the city sent Shelton a condemnation order for both properties and ordered him to demolish the structures on them, plus remove all debris by Nov. 8. The city also ordered that no one can occupy the property, though no one actually occupied the property for some time.

Although the city has condemned the properties, it does not yet have the legal authority to tear the buildings down. State law requires the city hold a public hearing before the properties are demolished to give homeowners a chance to contest the city’s order.

Logan said that the buildings are currently on the city’s blight review list, and the City Council could vote to tear the buildings down at the beginning of 2022.

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the status of the the two properties. Bill Simpson is purchasing 306 North Spring Street this week, and Shelton still owns 218 North Spring Street, commonly referred to as the old Jefferson Davis Hotel.

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