Hope for the old hospital

By DeeAnna Haney | Jan 15, 2013
Photo by: Caroline Klapper

Since the historic hospital building was left empty after DSS moved last year, county leaders have struggled to sell the property.

Although there was hope last February of turning the building into housing for senior citizens, that deal fell through because of issues with tax credits. Another prospective sale where the building was being eyed as a central location for regional mental health administrative services also fell through.

In an effort to find a new use for the building, county commissioners, the town of Waynesville and the Haywood Advancement Foundation recently agreed to partner with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government Development Finance Initiative (DFI).

The goal of the initiative is to help economically distressed local governments by helping them tackle the challenges of financing development projects. The organization is funded by a $1 million grant from the Local Government Federal Credit Union.

Two DFI representatives toured the old hospital building Thursday morning, wandering through the hallways that once housed patients and doctors until the hospital closed in the late 70s.

They will examine every aspect of the building and then determine the best financial incentives to identify potential investors.

"What we’ve really thought about before was senior housing, but they will be able to think outside the box and come up with how that facility can be best utilized," said Marty Stamey, county manager.

County commissioners agreed to contribute $4,000 toward the entire cost of the partnership, which is $18,000. The town of Waynesville and the Haywood Advancement Foundation will also pay $4,000 each while the DFI will provide $6,000 in private funds.

"They’ve got a good track record with what they’re doing with local governments and it's very economically feasible," Stamey said.

The county expects to receive a report and plans for the project within the next few months.