West Frankfort, IL (KFVS) - For years the old UMWA hospital in West Frankfort has stood empty. At one point a group tried to revive it, but failed. The city's effort to auction the building didn't go much better. But on Wednesday the city finalized plans with an outside company to tear down the old building.
Paulette Schloss lives across from the old hospital. She says it's time for it to come down.
"It's awful, you don't like to see something like that out of your kitchen window," said Schloss.
Last fall she, along with Mayor Tom Jordan and many others, looked on while West Frankfort Firefighters worked to put out an arson fire. Jordan says over the years the building has become an eyesore and safety hazard for the community.
"A lot of people prayed for this building to be restored to a hospital when they closed it down and that didn't happen and now we're 11 years later and it's in such disrepair that it has to come down," said Jordan.
The roof is nearly gone along with windows as well. But it's the steel of the building which caught the eye of an upstate company.
"According to them, there's 700 tons of steel in the structure and right now steal prices are around $200 a ton," said Jordan. "That will probably pay for most of the demolition."
Jordan says under the deal Dem Ex will own the property. The city will provide sewer and electric for demolition and redo the sidewalks. It will also pay half the back taxes on the property. Jordan says the city's bill comes to about $30,000. But he adds that's a savings when compared to the more than$250,000 demolition cost.
"We're trying to revitalize the economy of this community and make it a positive impact instead of a negative impact on our community and citizens," said Jordan.
The president of the West Frankfort Community Council says they will pick up the other half of the overdue taxes. Meanwhile Jordan says the city council is expected to hold a special meeting Monday to vote on the final details of the city's role in the project.
Plans call for demolition to begin by mid April. Once under way, it's expect to take six months before the lot is empty and ready for new opportunity.