By JOHN E. BIALAS
Broadmoor Bureau Chief
The oldest building in the Gulfport neighborhood of Broadmoor can be yours for $99,000, a price I saw on the Inrix travel app.
Our family has lived in Broadmoor for 35 years, so I’m going to be a diplomatic neighbor and forego saying anything mean about the building on Kelly Avenue at 19th Street, less than a half mile from the beach, a block from the railroad tracks and about three blocks from the picturesque Second Street neighborhood. Let’s just say the building’s need for repairs is overdue perhaps by a decade or two.
Many old-timers remember when the building was the home of the family-owned Broadmoor Grocery, a small convenience store where you could buy an ice-cold Coke or Barq’s from a vintage cooler.
The store was on the first floor of the two-story building, a rental home is in the back and an apartment remains on the second floor.
The grocery went out of business a long time ago, perhaps years before Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
Now the awning serves as a thunderstorm shelter for the hood’s ubiquitous bicyclists. The property is only a sidewalk away from two convenience stores. One is the Chevron Mart, also known as Hop In, and the other once housed the Broadmoor Laundromat. Its name is Chaibi, right behind the Chevron Mart and right across from the property.
A woman getting into a car parked near the apartment Saturday afternoon saw me taking pictures of the $99,000 building and thought I might be a potential buyer. No, not me.
She told me the building is more than 100 years old and that Mrs. Doleac, an original Broadmoor Grocery owner in her 90s, is selling the property through Cameron Bell Properties. Cameron Bell says it was built in 1940.
It’s my opinion the former Broadmoor Grocery is the neighborhood’s oldest building. It is across the street from a renovated and renamed Baptist church, the street being Kelly Avenue. I think my opinion is closer to fact than fiction. The building certainly looks like Broadmoor’s oldest, especially on the north side, which is the walk-up to the living area.
An urban legend has it that during the Chris Jackson era of Gulfport High basketball in the late 1980s, sportswriters would use the pay phone outside the building to shack in their stories to their newspapers after games at B. Frank Brown Gym. Jackson, who later became the NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, lived west of the store in the Soria City neighborhood.
The pay phone was on the south side. These days there are remnants but no phone. That alone has to be worth something to somebody.