County buildings placed on the market

Fate of historic hospital still up in the air
By DeeAnna Haney | Jan 22, 2014

County leaders are still pondering what to do with several vacant buildings in the county.

The historic hospital building, located on East Marshall Street in Waynesville, was left partially empty after Haywood County Department of Social Services moved to the current Clyde location in 2012.

Though there was hope at one time the building could be turned into housing for senior citizens, the deal fell through. The building was also eyed as a central location for regional health administrative services, but that too, fell through.

Last January, the county, town of Waynesville and the Haywod Advancement Foundation partnered with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government Development Finance Initiative (DFI) to examine the building and determine the best way to identify potential investors.

The study revealed little new information.

"They concluded that the best use was affordable housing, but that would require the issue of some tax credits, and we've already been down that road," said Haywood County Commission Chairman Mark Swanger said.

The county and town of Waynesville may still contract with the school of government to market the building, but that decision has not yet been made.

At a recent work session, county commissioners brainstormed about their next step when it comes to the old building.

The roof above the part of the building used by the Board of Education was replaced in recent years, but now the section of roof above where DSS was once located is leaking. The roof must be repaired before the building can be sold.

That section of roof is about 25 years old and has simply reached its lifespan, said Dale Burris, director of maintenance and facilities for the county.

If the old hospital is placed on the market, the entire building must be sold, Swanger said.

Based on an agreement made between county commissioners and the school board in the 80s, it is the county's responsibility to provide office space for school central administration services. Because of this, commissioners must keep in mind that if the old hospital building sells, they must provide alternative office space, Swanger warned.

He suggested offering to give the rest of the hospital building to the school board, which would offer an opportunity to consolidate administrative office spaces that are now scattered around the county.

Then, the county can focus its efforts on selling the old health department building and Annex II. These buildings are estimated to be worth around $750,000 and $1.1 million, respectively.

"The school system actually requested the plans and documentation for the building so there is some interest," said Burris.

Commissioner Bill Utpon said the rest of the building could be useful for the school board because the elevators are still in working condition.

"If we market those two buildings, with the school system staying where they are, that might be just as good a solution as trying to sell the hospital and moving them into one of those buildings which we could no longer sell," Swanger said.

At the end of the work session, the commissioners decided to discuss the issue with the school board before making a final decision. In the meantime, the county will make plans to sell the old health department building and Annex II.

"I think the health department and Annex II are going to be much easier to sell than that hospital building," Swanger said.