Old hospital could face demolition

July 16, 2008
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Old St. Vincent HospitalIvy Tech State College now hopes to tear down the old Weyerbacher Terrace apartment complex after determining the 1913 structure would be too expensive to save. The college already has razed a couple of buildings on the 5-acre property along Fall Creek Parkway between Illinois Street and Capitol Avenue, but had agreed to save and incorporate the original St. Vincent Hospital into a campus expansion. But an official with knowledge of the plans says engineers and architects brought in by Ivy Tech couldn't find a way to save the run-down structure. The building has serious structural damage, and its interior walls are load-bearing, complicating reuse, the official said. The college plans to ask the city for permission to tear the building down or give it back to the city. The college bought the properties from the city for $1 in May 2006 in a deal that requires preservation of the building's facade and chapel. The city has not waived or received a request to waive the agreement, a Department of Metropolitan Development spokesman said today. The building has been vacant for at least four years since the federal government closed Weyerbacher, a subsidized housing complex.
  • I was wondering what was going on after they finished demolishing the extra structures. I'm always in favor of preserving usable historical structures, but if the building is grossly unsound, what else can they to do but tear it down?
  • Unfortunately, that is a good question. I live very near the hospital and would prefer the building stay. However if it is unusable, it should probably go.

    What are the odds this block could become a green space as part of the Meridian corridor revitalization?

    Whatever ends up happening, we need to make sure we put the neighborhood on a POSITIVE Path, rather than putting up another strip mall or liquor store.
  • Maybe salvaging the facade or partial facade and incorporating it into a new structure. Hopefully this will not prevent them in further developing of the site for their expansion. Redevelopment of this site a is key to the neighborhood and the Meridian St. corridor. Sometimes the historic preservationists go too far.
  • What a shame that this building--at least the central area--can't be saved. I was a patient there twice (showing my age!) when it was St. Vincent Hospital and was a candy stripper there in high school. It was old and kind of creepy even back then--especially the operating rooms (think icky hospital green and ancient bright lights above the operating table). The central staircase inside was really beautiful, however. I'll never forget the nuns who were nurses--a vision in white reminiscent of The Flying Nun.
  • So let me make sure I've got this right. The state of Indiana is going to use its money to demolish multiple historic buildings?

  • I don't think structurally unsound is a good characterization of the building's condition. It's built like a brick s-house, unless Ivy Tech's previous partial demolition caused instability.

    Perhaps the folks from Historic Landmarks would offer you a second opinion, Cory.
  • But engineers and architects brought in by Ivy Tech couldn’t find a way to save the run-down structure.

    How convenient. To echo thundermutt, I bet HLFI could provide an architect or engineer who could come up with a creative and affordable solution. It should also be noted that Ivy Tech has let the building sit and deteriorate with broken windows.

    Cory, do you have renderings of what they propose to replace this landmark with?
  • thundermutt: I left a message with the Historic Landmarks Foundation, and I'm waiting to hear back.

    Eponine: Nope, no renderings yet.
  • Oh man I wish they could save it . I have never had a chance to see the inside of it. Maybe I'll trespass just to see the central staircase and the 'creepiness' of it. I love older run down buildings.

    I like the suggestion someone else made. Please at least save the facade or the exterior of the building. So many projects in indy have done Facade Preservation but then totally rebuilt whats behind it. Keeping this grand entrance and staircase with the neat latern/lights on each side is very iconic and unique for this city and really for anywhere. It would be a shame to tear it all down, especially if the plans to revitalize the area and enhance the river in front of it come to fruition. SAVE THE FACADE (sort of like SAVE the CLOCK TOWER!)
  • What a surprise people are upset about this buildings possible demise. Just because something is X number of years old, or you used to live across the street from it, or it was the school where your grandmas pen pal used to attend, or its destruction makes you uncomfortable because its older than you and well, if it goes surely you're next, are not valid reasons to halt progress. Historical preservationists are fanatics. They're the people responsible for why I no longer have a large balcony with a dt skyline view, but instead a ledge only big enough for about two people to stand upon.

    Correct me if I'm unaware of a significant historical event happened here. The first of a particular architectural style doesnt count.

    Get motivated about something that really matters like poverty, healthcare, animal/social rights, etc..
  • If West Baden Springs hotel--which was constructed with concrete that had been mixed with hot ash to speed curing which, subsequently contributed to the structural decline of that building--was saved, how can this building not also be saved? It was built as a hospital...very, very sound for the time. I understand that it might be a matter of cost, but the agreement was to save the facade and the chapel, in consideration of the purchase price of $1.00. It certainly seems prudent to more thoroughly investigate this before simply saying OK, tear it down.
  • Jason,

    Poverty, health care, animal/social rights certainly are important things, but this is a real estate blog. We tend to talk about things related to real estate here.

    Being The first of a particular architectural style certainly would count and preserving a charismatic building that played a significant part in Indianapolis' history is something that matters to most people that read this real estate blog.
  • If they just tear it down then Ivy Tech got a prime piece of real estate or $1.00. If they are going to tear the whole building down, then the city needs to get fair market value of the land.
  • Jason, if you think that preserving great architecture isn't significant, you should pick up a copy of Indianapolis: Then and Now to see what happens when people thought it better to tear down great buildings to put up non-descript glass boxes.
  • I'd love to see this building preserved, for one reason that I was born there! How's that Jason for a historical event? Just kidding. Seriously, what FishersMom says about the central staircase is correct - it was indeed grand. Whatever happens, I'd sure like to see that and the central facade maintained. Considering the lack of care that the building had after St. Vincent left, it probably has been left in shambles. Too bad; it was a grand old building, but it's certainly serving no purpose now.
  • Oh, this is just great, more government agencies involved a deal that leaves taxpayers with expenses and non-paying assets. Follow the money, the CITY sells the property to IVY TECH (state owned) for $1 with specifice requirements. Now IVY TECH (STATE) wants to forego the requirements, tear it down at taxpayer's expense and do with the land what they want.

    We taxpayers should tell the STATE (IVY TECH) to stick with their deal or give it back. And yes, a previous respondent said the STATE (IVY TECH) let the property deteriorate for 4 years. So how much does the STATE owe the taxpayers of Indy for allowing the property to go without even boarding up the windows?

    And let's not forget about the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT, who allowed the dregs of society to trash the building for many years. Just one more reason why the GOVERNMENT should NEVER, NEVER be in the public housing business.

    This entire deal smells of foul GOVERNMENT air.
  • I had a great-aunt who used to live there on the 3rd floor for years when it was a senior citizens building back in the 70' and 80's she said the place was haunted. It did used to be a hospital so I believed her. I think they should shoot a horror movie there before they demolish it.
  • For those of you who (like me) have never been in there, here's a link to a Flickr page that begins with about 30 photos taken in there within the last couple of years. What I presume to be the grand staircase looks to be in pretty good shape, or at least salvageable.
  • Sorry for the mess. Here's the URL: http://flickr.com/photos/zonkout/sets/72157605705429521/
  • Saving it sounds nice on paper, unless YOU are the one paying for it! And so far, no one has.

    Prime real estate? Sounds like an overstatement since the site has been vacant, closed, or subsidized housing for several decades. If it was prime, someone would have snapped it up by now. Take a look at the area around it. Not the worst -- not the best either.

    I have to take Ivy Tech's intended deal on good faith. Too bad they could not make it work. I still think they're the best hopes to redevelop that parcel (for something other than parking!) Sorry, an ancient staircase or facade isn't going to swing any deal at this location.
  • This isn't a private developer, it is the state government!

    Ivy Tech's complicity in this destruction is bad, bad news. Very poor decision making and stewardship on the part of that institution. Seriously disappointing.

    Government agencies should not be in the historic property destruction business, period.
  • Four years insufficiently protected from wether and vandalism: that is called demolition by neglect and has earned lawsuits for developers in other cities.

    The outcome seems to have been pre-planned for Ivy Tech to get a big chunk of real estate. for free.
  • Holy cow! Ivy Tech, are you KIDDING me? Really? What.A.Scam.

    Show me an A/E team that says it's too expensive to fix and I'll find twelve others who CAN fix it. Until we see hard numbers published, I would extremely skeptical of such a claim, especially if those numbers exclude the cost of restoring all the damage that Ivy Tech's poor stewardship (neglect) caused.

    Let's be fair to Ivy Tech and give them their money back, plus an extra 20% for their trouble. I'll write the $1.20 check myself as a gift to the City. Obviously, Ivy Tech bit off more than it could chew.
  • What a scam. Ivy Tech didn't have anybody look at the building BEFORE they started?

    There sure seem to be a lot of load bearing wall structures at IU, Purdue, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Ohio State, Michigan, etc., etc.

    There sure seem to be a lot of load bearing wall structures in Indianapolis as well.

    As mentioned above, if Ivy Tech is allowed to keep the property ad tear it down (a huge mistake) then it should have to pay full market value and be required to educate themselves and their students on the proven value of architectural preservation. They are a bunch of crooks until proven otherwise.
  • What a shame! Sure wish there were a way to save this beautiful structure. I was actually born in this hospital and everytime I drive by it's so neat to see such a beautiful old building. I have to say that before they demolish another historic building, that they should get a 2nd and 3rd opinion before deciding to demolish it.
  • I was born there, too. Yet another historic event!

    I agree with IndyinItaly, this a beautiful old building. The Historical Society should be getting involved so we can get a second opinion on the viability of restoring/reusing the building.

    If, after all other avenues are exhausted, Ivy Tech is still planning on tearing it down, then the city should be fairly compensated for, at minimum, the land value.

    We, the taxpayers, are tired of getting soaked by Indianapolis institutions that want a free ride. This sounds like a case where Ivy Tech acquired the building and then sat on it for a while until the dust settled, and then proceeded to say it wasn't salvageable. Sounds a little fishy.
  • Absolutely Shameful!

    Jason, all I have to say is that your comments are unbelievably ignorant! This building is gorgeous; it would be nearly impossible to replace with anything comparable. In addition, this building contributes greatly to Fall Creek Parkway.

    IVY Tech should be held accountable for the damage that they have allowed to occur to this building. In additon, nearby building that they tore down was a very attractive building. I was very sad to see it go.
  • I don't see where Ivy Tech is doing anything wrong here. They couldn't find a way to use this building within their budget, so they want to tear it down or give it back to the city. If the city wants to save it, they can. No one is holding anyone hostage, and there is no government conspiracy.
  • Hey Dan,

    It's not government conspiracy - it's either government stupidity and incompetence or greed. Almost anything the government has its hands in is either overrun by costs, mired in mediocrity, or doomed to ultimate failure, mostly the federal government. Here is a case where a state institution is either in over their heads or saw an opportunity to get something for nothing at the expense of the taxpayers. This just shows, once again, government at its worst. And we, the taxpayers, need to put a stop to it!
  • NO, NO, NO! This structure has no reason to be demolished. This is a beautiful building, fits nicely with the development pattern of the area, and is a beauty. If this comes down, the City should be ashamed of its self.
  • I agree with DT. The problem isn't that they can't figure out a feasible use for the building. The problem is that they didn't determine this before they agreed to purchase the parcel.
  • I think most of you need to go back and reread the article. Did you catch the part that says the federal government closed the subsidized housing? Sounds like a nice buliding. How about the part that mentions the load bearing walls? How do you turn a structure that has small rooms, like apartments, into large classrooms with load bearing walls all over the place? Most of the posters at this blog have unlimited dreams but don't realize the limited budgets that developers work with.
  • John M... thanks so much for the photo link. I'll be even more disgusted with the city if they allow this building to be demolished. What a shame it's been allowed to rot for so many years...
  • YahooLarry, you've proved Rob's point. All that stuff was knowable if Ivy Tech did their due diligence.

    If they didn't do the due diligence to be sure it would work as they intended, then they're incompetent.

    If they KNEW it wouldn't work for its stated use, then they're devious.

    Neither is a pretty sight.

    The issue isn't whether the building has to come down; a third or so is already down. It's that the decision-making leading up to it was incompetent or devious or both.
  • It would be interesting to see the building plans when the space was converted to apartments. I assume that many of the spaces were converted from hospital rooms so some walls had to come down. As I recall the hospital rooms weren't all that spacious. And unless you're talking about lecture hall rooms, most classrooms aren't huge. Did Ivy Tech submit any plans for utilizing the building when the purchased it from the city for a dollar or did the city just give their blessing without any idea when and how this might be accomplished?
  • Some of the dollar deals that Indianapolis has been involved with have had sour notes: Buggs Temple being one of them -- sort of. It took four years and a lot of value engineering to turn that $1 into a project that ended up about $2 million over budget...and it was all because the developer thought they could do it for 900k originally.

    Until you synthesize all of the factors, hire the professionals, put together the budgets, and wrap your mind and abilities around the project, it's pretty well impossible to say whether it IS or IS NOT feasible. Sounds like they've done some kind of feasibility study, and determined that it isn't feasible.

    That being said, the original premise behind this dollar deal should be maintained in that if Ivy Tech isn't interested in re-using the building, th City should give them their dollar back and move towards another justified re-use. Certainly this building deserves at least a few more feasibility studies before the City throws gives up. THAT is where the gov't is inept in this case -- not so much in that it's involved at all.

    Conclusion: Based on the Buggs Temple model, the result was a less than promised product. Yeah, it's nice now and the historic building's still there (at least the part of the shell that didn't need to be completely rebuilt), but it's nothing quite like it was originally promised. Heck the Regional Center didn't even balk at the changes to the approved plans and elevations. So maybe we (taxpayers) got $.75 to the dollar on that dollar deal? Let's not see this one get $.02 cents to the dollar and hope there's a future for this building that doesn't involve the government giving up on finding an appropriate re-use. As FishersMom indicated, Indianapolis has a history of being poor stewards to its history in built form.
  • Grrrrrr, this news makes me so, so mad!
  • Ah nothing like tearing down a historic building to 'progress.'
    In all honesty this seems more like 'not wanting to mess with it' or 'not wanting to preserve it'
    rather than expenses.
    In all honesty the facade is salvagable. If they don't even take the time to
    try and save the facade they honestly don't really care.
    We all know the structure to replace it will be er.. better?(tries not to crack up.)
  • I have worked at St. Vincent for over 15years but at the 86th street location. I have seen the pictures displayed in the main atrium, heard the stories of the 'big move' from my co-workers who have been here 30+ years and they are really amazing! I still remember my very first day at the orientation, having the mindset of starting yet another new job at a place that my sister worked and recommended to me and I was SO blown away by the history of this organization, the complete heart, sweat, dedication, integrity and desire to supply great healthcare to all of those in need no matter what their income status and actually SEEING that happen at the ground level is what has kept me here all these years, and hopefully many more to come. I have not seen the inside of this very old building that has seen many individual lives and situations, emotions that I'm sure hang in the air and in the very walls...but I would love to. And if nothing else, I agree that the facade should be kept, the grand staircase if possible whether Ivy Tech retains the property or rightfully returns it to the city for someone else to have the opportunity to preserve a very much needed, admired and respected presence that has added to the reputation of this city that we live in.
  • I find it odd that the save the history types here never offered to buy the property? I mean, why does all historic prservation include bending me over and taking more of my money via taxes? Folks need to get on with it. I can't image saving an old building just because it was important back in the day. Big deal. That was the past, let it go already. With energy prices going up, up and away, there is no point on wasting millions in new construction or historic preservation. Historic preservation has gotten so bad, no private entity ever seems to want to touch them. As soon as you buy the property and plan to tear something historic down, you find yourself in court, paying loads of legal fees, trying not to get the government to become your new landlord.

    The talk is that Wishard Hospital wants to build a new hospital. I already know that the historic preservationist will be going nuts if there are any plans to tear down the 10+ various era buildings that now make up the Wishard campus.

    We need to focus on the future, and stop worrying so much about the past and the place.
  • ...I was SO blown away by the history of this organization, the complete heart, sweat, dedication, integrity and desire to supply great healthcare to all of those in need no matter what their income status...

    Yea, so dedicated that they left their old building and moved miles away from the lower income area they were once in.
  • Ryan, the history and geography (which you seem to dismiss and to label) are important in the St. V case. In 1973 the population of Marion County was shifting significantly northward out of Center Twp. Methodist Hospital is just a few blocks south of the old St. V, and Winona was just a few blocks north. There was NO healthcare facility from there to the county line, but lots of people. (The Southside was served by St. Francis, and the Eastside by Community.)

    I don't think it's entirely fair to characterize St. V's decision as flight, as it paved the way for Methodist to stay and thrive and for St. V to grow and thrive as well. One can call the near northside underserved in many respects, but presence of healthcare facilities is not one of them.
  • Ryan, that is part of living in such an old city.
    Let us not forget that Indianapolis is getting closer and closer to its 200th birthday each day.
    There is a lot of history here and if you believe we shouldn't preserve it and forget the past then maybe Indianapolis isn't for you.
    The past is the foundation for the future. If we try to destroy the foundation we will regret it.
  • haunted
    i drive past that place every morning. i blieve its haunted.

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