Briarwood One, formerly a business center, has become a haven for vagrants, drug abuse and illegal dumping - WLBT

Briarwood One, formerly a business center, has become a haven for vagrants, drug abuse and illegal dumping – WLBT

JACKSON, Miss (WLBT) – From the graffiti “help each other or die” on the back staircase to the trash cans outside the main entrance, the Briarwood One office building has seen better days.

At one point, the building at the corner of Briarwood Drive and I-55 North Frontage Road was home to a for-profit college, lawyers, and other professionals.

Today, the facility’s principal tenants are a handful of vagabonds.

Meanwhile, many of the dark-colored windows that once distinguished the building from the neighboring estates have been broken.

And since the power outage, the underground car park has been inundated with water, the stench of sewage and rubbish emanating from it.

Dr. Roger Parks, a dentist who has an office nearby, is concerned about the impact of the dilapidated facility on his street.

He’s urging the city to step in, saying the out-of-state landowner refused to keep the property.

“I’ve been there since 1987, and the street is very safe. You can see it’s very clean, and it’s a great place because it’s very convenient for people who live in and around Jackson.” “We have an IHOP. We have chili there. We have a Hampton Inn across the street.”

“But this building, someone needs to make it off-limits to the illegal activity that’s going on here right now,” he said.

Since the power outage, the basement parking area has been flooded.  going...
Since the power outage, the basement parking area has been flooded. The smell of sewage and rubbish is present.(WLBT)

Parkes, who has led clean-up efforts along Briarwood, said the building has deteriorated significantly in the past five months, about a year after it was acquired by current owner Briarwood Realty Holding LLC.

According to Hinds County land registry files, the Great Neck of New York acquired the property in 2021. Prior to that, it was owned by 460 Briarwood Drive Holdings, LLC in Maryland.

The latter notified the Secretary of State in March that he “does not do business in Mississippi, and is waiving his authority to do business in the State.”

WLBT contacted the current owners by phone and found the email in the Secretary of State’s filings but did not receive a response.

Briarwood Realty Holding LLC is affiliated with the Kohan Retail Investment Group, which owns the Vicksburg Mall, according to Kohan’s website.

Briarwood One is located in Ward 2, which is represented by Jackson City Council member Angelique Lee.

According to the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s online traffic census maps, approximately 8,600 vehicles in front travel each day along Briarwood, while another 100,000 or so vehicles travel along the highway.

“This is a major road that leads to this wing off the highway,” she said. “This is just a vacant place, with holes in all the windows, you can tell that they broke the glass. It’s just, first of all, ugly to the eye. But secondly, it’s not safe, because it attracts hateful people to this area.”

A handful of windows at the front of the building were smashed, as were the doors to the main entrance. At the rear, more windows were torn down, as were the rear doors.

Looking out from one window, there are obvious signs of housing, including makeshift clothesline and food wrappers.

Outside the back entrance, one can see piles of debris, including a shopping cart and leather sofa. There are also signs of drug abuse, as the WLBT discovers a syringe in the parking lot.

Glimpse of the back entrance to Briarwood One.
Glimpse of the back entrance to Briarwood One.(WLBT)

A man, who identified himself as Dafonte, said that as many as 30 or 40 people slept there at one time. Additionally, he said that one tramp who lives there steals from nearby businesses, only to take them into the building.

Lee said she spoke with the city’s Department of Planning and Development, and said that the current owner, and his registered agent, had been serviced.

“We were unable to talk to them physically, but we gave them papers to let them know that they had a certain amount of time to secure and clean this building,” she said. “We are still waiting for this process and we may end up in court.”

Meanwhile, she said she directed the Jackson Solid Waste Department to get out and clean up as often as possible.

“Of course, when you are vacant, people know that they come and dispose of waste illegally. So, we keep solid waste here as often as possible to collect garbage. We also have outreach workers who come from this building, sometimes to try to help the homeless population.. .to see if they can help them find some housing.”

Lee and Parks believe the building can be saved and restored.

She told me that she would like to see Briarwood One redeveloped into condominiums.

For his part, Parks says he’s spoken to a potential developer about the site. He also believes that the unique shape of the building has something to offer.

“The shape of the triangle is very interesting. And it has got some architectural features, that if it was in good shape, it would be unbeatable,” he said. “It’s just that nothing lasts forever, right? But you can still preserve it. And it can’t be a place for sickness and all kinds of other illegal activities.”

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