Thursday, October 16, 2003

Hamilton now owns hospital property



By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - The city took a big step this week toward realizing its vision of a vibrant, developed riverfront when it officially acquired the former Mercy Hospital Hamilton and its 10-acre site.

Hamilton bought the property from Mercy Health Partners for $200,000. They had been negotiating the sale for months, and sealed the deal Tuesday.

"Now we can control the destiny of that site," Mayor Donald Ryan said. "We're very excited about the possibilities."

The hospital buildings will be torn down. Butler County United Way had considered converting the hospital into a social service and community resource center. But a study determined it would cost $17 million to renovate.

A convention/hotel complex, a performing arts center, restaurants and shops are among the possible developments. The city has held a series of citizen meetings to listen to ideas for developing the riverfront.

The city will select a developer within six months, Ryan said.

A small portion of the 110-year-old hospital, which closed two years ago, is occupied by several tenants, including medical-records and occupational-health staff, the county coroner's morgue and a pharmacy. The site also has a fully occupied office building.

Hamilton has promised to help the tenants find other space.

Hamilton decided to finalize the deal when an environmental study indicated only minor contamination on the site.

"That certainly was a big relief," Ryan said.

Major contamination would have made redeveloping the site difficult.

E-mail skemme@enquirer.com




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