Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Hospital Demo/Construction and Financing the Major Topic with Winston Co. Supervisors

The Winston County Board of Supervisors meeting on Monday
(June1) was dominated by discussions concerning land purchases required, demolition of the damaged hospital facility and financing options for the construction of the new Winston Medical Center.
The board members first met with Winston Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Paul Black who indicated that there was progress being made toward the demolition of the tornado damaged Winston Medical Center facility as well as preparation for construction of the new facility at that location.

Plans have been in place to begin demolition of the old facility that was heavily damaged by the April 28, 2014 tornado, as soon as required permits and authorizations were completed. According to Black, bids for demolition are scheduled to be opened on June 11 and with no unforeseen circumstances, a contractor should be chosen by June 15 to begin the process of removing the structure.

Discussions with Black and the Board of Supervisors then turned to the purchase of tracts of surrounding property and the required lease amendments and re-zoning necessary for these tracks to be included in the upcoming new hospital project.

Black noted that final approval by the County was needed for the land purchases of adjoining tracts to the existing hospital complex on East Main (Highway 14 E.). Agreements and final purchase of two tracts of land that include three homes are nearing completion with one land purchase likely to be completed by the end of this week. The other purchase completion should follow soon. The total purchase price of these two tracts would be approximately $400,000.

Board of Supervisors members Mike Peterson and Luke Parkes
explained the plans and current process in place. The purchase of approximately 5.8 acres resolves a number of problems associated with the existing site. Much of the existing property is in a flood zoning and cannot be built upon. This purchase not only provides more land area to build upon but it is also at a considerably higher elevation. This will allow re-grading and the use of the soil from the purchase property as fill for lower areas of the site. The use of fill dirt from the site will lower site development costs by reducing the need to bring in fill dirt from other areas.

The purchase will also allow the existing nursing home to continue to operate while construction progresses. The continued operation of the nursing home generates much-needed revenue. Once construction is far enough along to prevent any disruption of service to nursing home residents, the existing nursing home would be demolished.

As was the case prior to the storm, Winston County owns the
property but enters into a long-term lease with Winston Medical Foundation who operates and oversees the medical facility.

The County’s legal counsel had some concerns about rezoning requirements for the purchase of the new tracts but it was determined that the foundation would be responsible for any resulting requirements.

Later in the board meeting, Supervisors met with representatives of the legal firm Butler Snow,LLP concerning the use of the New Market Tax Credit Program to provide financing for the new hospital and complex. This federal program provides incentives to large investors in the form of tax credits when they invest in Community Development Entities that provide loans for projects in low-income areas such as Winston County.

While insurance proceeds cover part of the construction costs along with FEMA and MEMA funds, the County/Foundation will still require funds to complete the construction of the new medical center and complex. The Winston Medical Foundation has already engaged the legal firm to assist in the process of obtaining financing through this program. wwm