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City asked to support future plans for older hospital building

A number of Nevada residents, who live near the old Story County hospital building on Sixth Street (presently Story Senior Care), were present at Monday’s City Council meeting to hear about potential plans for the building. Story Medical is constructing a new long-term care facility next to the medical center on South 19th Street, which means in the near future, the old hospital building will be vacated.

Brenda Dryer, director of the Nevada Economic Development Council, shared a power point presentation about plans for The Capstone Group – a nonprofit housing group – to turn the longtime hospital complex into modern, updated rental housing units.

“Time is the worst enemy to old buildings,” said one of the slides in Dryer’s presentation. She encouraged that the City’s support for this project will lessen the chance of this building standing vacant, and will help meet the housing goals of the community by adding another 40-60 rental units. Dryer said Nevada’s enviable success at attracting new businesses and supporting existing businesses to expand will continue to drive a growing workforce and the need for more housing.

Ultimately, the old hospital building is owned and will be sold by Story Medical Center, but the City’s support is needed. The City has been asked to join the NEDC in providing financial support through matching funds to the renovation project, which could begin as early as late fall of this year in the areas of the building not utilized by Story Senior Care.

Working with The Capstone Group will be Aspect Architecture of Cedar Rapids, a firm experienced in work on rehabilitation and reuse of old buildings, and Denny Elwell Company of Ames, which will support the financial aspects of the project.

City and NEDC leaders have traveled to view several similar renovation projects by these entities in Iowa, Dryer said. She noted that before supporting this type of project, it is important for leaders to fully review other projects and talk to other communities about their experiences.

One thing Dryer emphasized about the Nevada project is that it will be “market rate housing,” meaning that no matter what income you are, no matter what age you are, you can live here.

The project is pursuing State of Iowa incentives, Dryer explained. “Workforce housing tax credits are a way this project can take and sell those tax credits and inject cash to support the project… This is a very large project and incentives are key to making it happen.”

Dryer said the developer will also pursue redevelopment credits that deal with environmental aspects of the project, like asbestos.

Dryer said the NEDC Board has approved partnering with the City of Nevada to provide the matching funds for the State of Iowa workforce housing tax credits/incentives.

Residents living near the old hospital building had questions and concerns about how the project will impact their neighborhood. Some of those questions were answered, and residents were told they can reach out to the City or NEDC for more information. It was also noted that any developer, including this one, will have to meet all City code requirements if the project moves forward.

Mayor Brett Barker said he’s been worried for a while about what would happen to the old hospital building, as demolishing it would be incredibly expensive, and if it sat too long and became dilapidated, no one might want to purchase it. Sitting on a main avenue into the community, he is happy that a group with proven ability to rehabilitate old buildings into modernized, attractive facilities is interested in this Nevada project.

–Written by Marlys Barker, City of Nevada

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