A dispute about the proposed demolition of the vacated former St. John’s Hospital facility prompts Salina Regional Health Center to file a lawsuit against the City of Salina.
Salina Regional Health Center filed suit Wednesday morning, and is seeking an order to overturn action by the Salina City Commission that prevents demolition of the former St. John’s. According to hospital “the Salina City Commission has denied Salina Regional its basic property rights under the law”.
On November 17th the city denied a request by Salina Regional Health Center to demolish the former St. John’s Hospital facility. Previously, Back in December of last year, Salina’s Heritage Commission approved plans to demolish the buildings, agreeing that restoring them would be too costly. The issue then had to come before the city commission for final approval. At that meeting, Jim Ravenkamp filed a protest to the demolition plan. He believed there were ways that the facility can be used. Salina City Commissioners then delayed approving the demolition.
Officials had hoped that the issue would become a moot point, with the facility being transformed into affordable senior housing. Overland Park based Comprise Community Development Company had expressed interest in the property. Comprise and Salina Regional Health Center signed a real estate purchase contract in March. The sale was contingent upon due diligence inspections. Comprised had intended to convert the existing building into affordable senior housing. Plans included 104 one and two bedroom units. The company would have maintain all historic portions. It was anticipated construction could begin in the fall, and take about a year. The plan never became a reality, though.
Hospital officials say that they have been unsuccessfully trying since 2002 to find an alternate use to avoid demolition. The former hospital is not on any state or national register of historic places. In 1997 it was designated by the city as a part of the local Heritage Conservation District. That designation requires a Certificate of Appropriateness to remove the buildings.
Salina Regional says it had hoped to avoid the expense of legal action “because it takes money away from patient care”, but the commission’s action “leaves the hospital no other choice”.