Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley says he supports the decision by Mishawaka-based Franciscan Alliance to demolish the former St. Francis hospital in the city. Franciscan says the project will begin in November and is expected to take about 18 months. Buckley says the health system will make the property environmentally-friendly and turn it into greenspace.
The former hospital sits on 15 acres. The hospital closed in 2012 after all inpatient, clinical and support services were moved to the newly-expanded Indianapolis campus. Franciscan says nearly 900,000 square feet of adjoining buildings will be demolished.
Buckley says there were a few businesses that were interested in reusing the facility, however those businesses could not meet the deadline Franciscan made to move forward. He says keeping up maintenance of the building was becoming cost-prohibitive for Franciscan and keeping it vacant wasn’t doing the surrounding neighborhood any favors.
"I felt that, if Franciscan Alliance moves to take down the buildings and clean it up environmentally and restore it to greenspace, then our local neighborhoods would benefit from it and we would entice local business to locate around the property," said Buckley. "So, it was an economic development decision and that’s the reason for my recommendation."
Buckley says he’s received overwhelming support for the decision to demolish the facility from members of the community. The demolition project is being supervised by Michigan City-based Tonn and Blank Construction.
Franciscan says two separate, recently-renovated properties will continue to house Franciscan Alliance Information Services and Franciscan Visiting Nurse Service. The health system plans to add dozens of jobs to those properties over the next few months, bringing its staffing total to more than 400 employees.
Buckley says a couple of issues led to the decision to demolish the hospital.