New Possible Tenant for Vacant Marion Memorial Hospital Building

New Possible Tenant for Vacant Marion Memorial Hospital Building
By: Carly O'Keefe

MARION, Ill. - A company out of California is interested in buying the old Marion Memorial Hospital building.  It been empty and up for sale for three years now.
In February a company wanted to buy it to use as a halfway house for federal prisoners. Residents and church-goers in the area say they like the new proposal better.  If the sale goes through, it will become an assisted living facility.
Pastors and parishioners at the Zion United Church of Christ weren't crazy about the idea of a halfway house for federal prisoners in the old Marion Memorial Hospital building.
"We've shared a parking lot with the hospital for years," said Assistant Pastor Rev. Louis Fluck.
Reverend Fluck feels it just would have been just too close for comfort.
"We have Sunday school and a youth program like what's going on here tonight, so we have kids here all the time and it wasn't a good idea from our perspective," said Fluck.
On the other hand, many feel a new possible buyer could be mutually beneficial to both the church and the proposed assisted living center.
"Our pastor could go over there and talk to the elderly folks.  That would be easy for us, and they could come over here to a church that's easy to get to, so sounds like a good idea," said Zion United Church of Christ parishioner Randy Jones.
It sounds like a good idea to city leaders too.  If the sale is successful, a building that's been vacant for three years would be back on the tax rolls; it would provide upwards of 200 jobs and ultimately fill a need in the community.   
"We do have an aging population, not just in Marion, but in the region.  It is really difficult to find adequate care, affordable care," said Marion Mayor Bob Butler. "This should fill the need, and there is a need there."
Virmar Trading Company of Montara, California  has already put down a $25,000 security deposit on the hospital building.  Marion Mayor Bob Butler is confident the $1.2 million deal will go through, and the vacant hospital will become a 100-bed assisted living facility in 2008.