3 On Your Side Investigates: Sun-n-Sand Abandoned - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

3 On Your Side Investigates: Sun-n-Sand Abandoned

Sun-n-Sand before it closed in 2001 (Source: WLBT) Sun-n-Sand before it closed in 2001 (Source: WLBT)
Sun-n-Sand pool and sun deck, as seen from SkyTracker (Source: WLBT) Sun-n-Sand pool and sun deck, as seen from SkyTracker (Source: WLBT)
Brenda Scott (Source: WLBT) Brenda Scott (Source: WLBT)
Sen. David Blount (Source: WLBT) Sen. David Blount (Source: WLBT)
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Its iconic sign has stood on Lamar Street in downtown Jackson for more than half a century, but the Sun-n-Sand Motor Hotel has been boarded-up with no vacancy since 2001. Almost seventeen years after the last guest checked out, it still brings back memories for some and frustration for others.

“The sign looks better than the building," says Brenda Scott, president of the Mississippi Association of State Employees. She used to spend a lot of time at the Sun-n-Sand since that is where many out-of-town legislators would live while the legislature was in session. It was never difficult to find a lawmaker there to whom she could plead her case for state workers.

"“We exchanged a lot of great ideas here in dealing with the state legislature, and maybe that's why we don't have such a great working relationship with them now, because, you know, people don't like change," she said.

The hotel has changed a lot since the late businessman Dumas Milner opened it in 1960. It got its unusual name from Milner's hotel with the same name down in Biloxi. He also owned the King Edward, another home-away-from-home for legislators until he closed it in 1967. That only increased the Sun-n-Sand's popularity. 

After the Sun-n-Sand closed in 2001, the contents were sold in an auction that attracted many former guests and legislators who wanted a piece of it to keep.

By the time David Blount of Jackson was elected to the state Senate, the hotel was already closed. But he has heard the stories, and he hates the way it looks today.

“I would like to see it cleaned up," Blount says. "Right now, the property is privately-owned, and the owner has not seen fit to really do anything productive with the property.”

That private owner is Lamar Properties. Since 2005, it has had a contract with the state that calls for the state to pay Lamar forty dollars per month per parking space, so state workers can park at the old hotel. It's a deal worth almost $77,000 a year for Lamar.

Senator Blount, who chairs the Senate Public Property Committee, says he wants the state to terminate that agreement, the current version of which is set to expire in June of 2018. He says leasing all those parking spaces is a waste of your money. He says for about the same amount, the state could buy the closed Wright & Ferguson funeral home across from the Capitol and use both the parking lot and the building there.

“And when the owner of that Sun-n-Sand property is no longer receiving rent, he might be prompted to either get the property into private development or to sell it to the state," added Blount.

Three on Your Side contacted Sidney Mack at Lamar Properties. He did not want to talk on camera, but he told us he's been contacted numerous times by people wanting to buy the old hotel. He said none of their offers was worth pursuing, and he plans to hold on to the hotel until the right deal comes along.

If and until that happens, and as long as the state continues to pay to use the parking lot, the sun will continue to rise over a locked-up building that a dozen years ago was named one of the state's Most Endangered Places by the Mississippi Heritage Trust.

“I really miss this place," says Scott, who once hosted a family reunion in the hotel's banquet room. "It was like home."

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