The City of Bloomington signed a letter of intent with IU Health on Wednesday to buy property at the IU Health Bloomington Hospital site, according to a joint press release.
“This is an exciting opportunity for Bloomingtonians to thoughtfully reimagine this important location in our city,” Mayor John Hamilton said in the release.
The city will pay a discounted rate of $6.5 million for the property, which is worth about $16 million, according to the release. IU Health will be responsible for the $7 million to $8 million costs of demolishing and remediating the site.
A final purchase agreement between the city and IU Health is expected to take place by Feb. 15.
“We are pleased to be able to work together with the administration to make a positive impact on our community,” Bloomington Hospital president Matt Bailey said in the release.
No one at the hospital could be directly reached for comment.
Bloomington communications director Mary Catherine Carmichael said negotiations for the 24 acres began months ago when IU Health announced Bloomington Hospital would move to the Regional Academic Health Center. The facility opens in 2020 on the property where the driving range at IU Golf Course is.
Demolition of the current hospital won’t begin until everything is moved to the Regional Academic Health Center, Carmichael said. In the meantime, the city and IU Health will continue to work together on the acquisition.
“It’s been a good partnership for a long time,” Carmichael said.
Carmichael said the hospital is part of the “String of Pearls,” four districts along the B-Line Trail the city plans to develop for the community in the coming years. Along with the hospital grounds, these districts include Switchyard Park, Bloomington Trades District and Monroe Convention Center.
Right now, the city does not have a concrete plan for what it will do with the property. Carmichael said the public will be included in the decision-making process to ensure the land will best serve the community.
“We feel strongly that that needs to be the topic of a great deal of public discussion,” Carmichael said.
When hospital buildings are abandoned, they are often left untouched to decay and become eyesores, Carmichael said. The city’s acquisition of Bloomington Hospital will ensure this doesn’t happen.
“It’s pretty unusual to have that kind of acreage available that you can reimagine as a new hub in the heart of your city,” Carmichael said.
The city may try to save important parts of the property such as the parking garage and Roland Kohr Administrative Building, Carmichael said.
Named after former Bloomington Hospital president Roland Kohr, the Kohr Administrative Building is the oldest building still left on the property and, while not recognized as a local landmark, has some historic value, Carmichael said.
“We don’t want to be too hasty,” Carmichael said. “We want to take a look at it first and make sure we’re not throwing the baby out with the bathwater.”
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