News

What’s the fate of the old hospital?

Building will go to highest bidder

The Southwest Healthcare board of directors has decided the fate of old hospital and ambulance properties.

By COLE BENZ
Pioneer Editor

“We’re going to put it out on sealed bids,” said Gary Brennan, board chairman.

“We talked about different options. We just felt we would be doing the public and Southwest Healthcare the best service if we were to send it out on sealed bids.”

Since May 1, the old hospital has been left empty, and before that the ambulance building. The question of what they were going to do with those properties was a big question shortly after the new facility opened, and since the organization’s financial woes became apparent. And up until the board’s most recent meeting, the future of those structures had yet to be decided, though Brennan told the Pioneer that multiple entities have inquired about the availability of both properties.

“We’ve had a couple of direct inquiries,” Brennan said. “So for us to not put it out to bids knowing we have more than one interested party, [for] one it’s not fair to the individuals that might be interested, [and] two, I don’t believe it’s in the best interest of the organization either.”

A big problem with the value of the hospital, based on the appraisal, was the presence of the asbestos. The board had talked publicly about trying to find a grant that would pay for the removal of the material, in order to increase that value to a potential buyer. However, what they found is that most grants are only available for facilities that are operational, which the old hospital is not. After further consideration, they felt it best to leave it up to the buyer (new owner) of the building to decide how to mitigate for asbestos or if it was necessary, as it would depend on the intended use of the building, because the asbestos would not have to be mitigated if it is not disturbed.

Another issue that the board had to decide upon was how to split the properties. The ambulance building has very little property outside of the actual structure, so they toyed with the idea of breaking up some of the plats to make it more attractive to a potential bidder.

But what the board decided was that they are going to let bidders submit bids on the individual properties, or submit a bid on both properties combined. This would give Southwest Healthcare more flexibility on getting the most they can for the empty properties.

Brennan said it is early on in the process and it could take as long as six weeks. The board still has to advertise for bids for a certain number of weeks, and then set a deadline for accepting those bids.