Indianapolis is attempting to move forward with the sale and redevelopment of the former Winona Hospital. On Wednesday, the Marion County Metropolitan Development Commission approved a resolution to publicly list the property for $667,500.
The 317-bed hospital at Meridian and 32nd streets, which opened in 1956, closed in 2004 after owners declared bankruptcy. In October, it was listed—along with its unpaid tax bill of nearly $1 million—in the Marion County Treasurer’s tax sale.
But the opportunity to obtain the property’s tax lien attracted no bidders. Metropolitan Development Commission spokesman John Bartholomew said the city has written off Winona’s back taxes and is now attempting to attract a buyer who can rehabilitate the property.
“That thing’s been an eyesore so long and just sitting there,” Bartholomew said.
The commission determined the Winona site’s $667,500 asking price by averaging a pair of independent appraisals. Bartholomew noted that any buyer would also have to take on the site’s substantial liabilities. He said the cost to demolish Winona and remove its asbestos and medical waste has been estimated between $1 million and $2 million.
Reusing Winona could cost far more. In August, IBJ reported Denver-based Ecolonomic Realty Group was studying the feasibility of gutting Winona’s interior to make way for senior apartments. ERG principal Jerry Corbier, who runs the company’s Indianapolis office, pegged the conversion price tag at more than $25 million.
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has also explored redeveloping Winona. Museum CEO Jeff Patchen last year told IBJ he’d like it to be replaced with a community park and outdoor learning center. The museum had previously bought a parking lot that was part of the Winona complex and helped pay for an environmental assessment on the site.
Spokeswoman Donna Lolla said the museum is reviewing the opportunity.
The commission will open and consider all sealed bids for the Winona property at 1 p.m. March 17th. Its resolution lists a variety of possible acceptable development uses, including park space and sport fields, educational and career-development opportunities, public art, diverse cultural attractions and events, commercial/retail/office uses, condominium and townhouse units, senior housing or institutional.
But the city appears to be moving away from any plan that would require tax exemption.
“We want to get this land developed and get it back on the tax rolls. [That] is our ultimate goal,” Bartholomew said. “Right now, we’re not getting anything for it.”