May 29th, 2002Demolition of the Central Unit portion of the old Burlington Medical Center site is set to begin Monday, June 3. The Central Unit will be the second major portion of the site to be demolished since the hospital relocated to the newly constructed Great River Medical Center in West Burlington, Iowa, on April 4, 2000.
Great River Health Systems’ Board of Directors voted this week to continue razing the site after exhausting all attempts to secure an appropriate reuse of the Central Unit.
“The Board of Directors and hospital administration have been working for more than three years with several interested parties on potential reuse opportunities for the facility,” said Mark Richardson, president and CEO of Great River Health Systems. “Unfortunately, none of the proposed redevelopment plans worked out. Therefore, we plan to offer a clean, structure-free site that will be more attractive to developers and more feasible for a wider variety of opportunities.”
Demolition at the former site of the hospital began in March 2001 when the oldest portion of the structure, the Eastman Unit, was razed. The current phase of the demolition involves only the Central Unit, which was built in the late 1970s.
“Razing the Eastman Unit was always planned, regardless of any redevelopment option,” Richardson said. “It had become a very difficult and costly structure to maintain. The Central Unit is a relatively new and very sound building, and we put a great deal of effort into finding a reuse option that would be beneficial to downtown Burlington and the community as a whole. Unfortunately, we were not able to secure such a reuse.”
Richardson pointed to the economics of maintaining an empty building of that size for another year as the primary factor in the board’s decision to continue with the demolition project.
“This also may open up the site to encourage development within the downtown area,” he said.
Bucks Demolition of Danville, Iowa, which razed the Eastman Unit, also will handle the demolition of the Central Unit. The cost to demolish the Central Unit is approximately $564,000, and it will take 10 to 14 weeks to raze the building and clear the site. After demolition of the Central Unit, the Mercy Professional Building will be the only remaining structure on the site.
The Mercy Professional Building is located on North Fourth Street in Burlington at the site of the original Mercy Hospital. The existing structure was built in 1927 to replace the first Mercy Hospital building. It was converted to house primarily physician offices after the merger of Burlington and Mercy hospitals in 1969. Great River Health Systems’ Board of Directors currently is working with a developer on the potential reuse of this structure.
“The Board of Directors has given the developers a July 1 deadline to decide if they intend to proceed with this project,” Richardson said. “ We will exhaust all possible options before any final decision is made on the Mercy Professional Building.
“It’s unfortunate that an acceptable reuse could not be secured for the Central Unit and, potentially, the Mercy Professional Building. Both are very sound structures but, at this point, we feel it would be in the community’s best interest to move on and explore the more viable redevelopment opportunities that a clean site can offer.”