A vacant mall considered by some to be an eyesore at the entrance to downtown Meridian may be gone within the next year.
At a meeting of the Meridian Rotary Club Wednesday, Lauderdale County District 1 Supervisor Jonathan Wells offered an update on the site and cautioned that the timeline for demolition was just an estimate.
“To get that Village Fair Mall demolished, if we see that building on the ground within 10 to 12 months, I think we’re doing awesome.” he said. “Especially with what the city of Meridian is going to be doing with their 22nd Avenue project, we’re going to make our entrance to our city so much better.”
The mall shut down in 1997 and the county purchased the approximately 39-acre property for $1.25 million earlier this year.
Wells said there are plans to build a new county courthouse on the site, but leaders want to open up some of the space for the public.
“If private industry, private business locates there, that will be capital investment that we’ll get tax dollars on for years to come,” he said later.
While it’s not clear what would happen to the current courthouse, Wells told the Rotary Club that county leaders would not abandon it.
“We’re definitely not going to let that dilapidate and get into a condition where kind of like the Village Fair Mall is now. We’re not going to let that happen.”
County crews and a contractor will likely team up for the demolition after a study on how to mitigate any asbestos in the area is completed, Wells said. The county may be able to recycle some of the demolished material, he said.
Last month, the board of supervisors discussed trying to stop unwanted visitors from wandering around the property.
“We’re just encouraging our sheriff’s department to make some rounds through there occasionally. We are looking at putting some fencing up,” Wells said.