A south-side entrepreneur unveiled plans Thursday to convert the old Saint Francis Hospital in Beech Grove into a $20 million mixed-use senior-living development .
Joe Wolfla, who helped lead the reintroduction last year of the chocolate beverage Choc-ola, announced the project at a Beech Grove Chamber of Commerce event.
Dubbed Franciscan Place, the development will feature 150-plus apartments, shops and a restaurant in the old hospital.
Wolfla purchased the 14-acre site from Franciscan Saint Francis for $10.
The property became available in March after the Catholic hospital system ended all inpatient operations at the facility. Franciscan announced five years ago that it would consolidate its Beech Grove operations into an expanded facility seven miles south, near Interstate 65 and Emerson Avenue.
The Beech Grove hospital was founded in 1914 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, an order of nuns based in Mishawaka. But it fell victim to the need for hospitals to attract patients using private health insurance, which pays generous prices compared to government-sponsored health plans such as Medicare and Medicaid.