Hammond moving forward with demolishing building once proposed for hospital

2013-02-16T18:30:00Z 2013-02-16T22:22:10Z Hammond moving forward with demolishing building once proposed for hospitalChelsea Schneider Kirk chelsea.schneider@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com

HAMMOND | The city is moving forward in demolishing a dilapidated building along New York Avenue once envisioned as a hospital by a group of doctors.

The city had given the doctors until January to find the estimated $50 million in additional financing required for the project at 2500 New York Ave., just south of Calumet College of St. Joseph.

Lacking the financing, the doctors were to demolish the property themselves by last week Monday, or the city would take over the work and place a lien on the property for the cost, according to City Attorney Kris Kantar.

Kantar said the doctors did not contact the city by the January deadline for financing or the demolition deadline.

The demolition hopefully will take place by summer, Kantar said. The city plans to use funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the demolition, which requires an environmental review and action by the city's historic board before the project is placed out to bid.

“We are moving forward as quickly as we possibly can on the demolition,” said Tom Dabertin, chief of staff for Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr.

Dabertin said with the adjacent college and the city examining the possibility of building homes near the Lost Marsh Golf Course, there are a number of possibilities for the city. The city does not own the property at this time, Dabertin said.

The demolition marks the end of the proposed project that dates back to at least 2005. While the doctors had raised $10.2 million and spent $8.5 million on acquiring the building and commissioning architectural drawings for the 60 to 110-bed hospital, the project hit a hurdle in 2008, when the bank the doctors were planning to use to finance the project failed.

The building dates back to the 1940s and used to serve as a laboratory facility for Standard Oil, Dabertin said. However, the building is run down and is a target for graffiti.

One of the doctors, Dr. Sakhawat Hussain of Hammond Community Hospital LLC, did not return an emailed request for comment as of Friday afternoon.

Calumet College of St. Joseph President Daniel Lowery said he's happy to see Hammond moving forward with demolition.

“It would have been wonderful if a hospital would have been there,” Lowery said, “but right now it's gutted and really a blight on the neighborhood.”

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