By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON — After a meeting held by the city’s Brownfield Redevelopment Authority on March 14, Mayor Kyle Stack said one of two things will soon happen at the former Riverside Hospital: Either property owner Dr. Iqbal Nasir will have made good on his promise to begin abatement work by May 15, or the city will take whatever legal steps are necessary to move forward with site inspections and demolition.
“He reassured us that we will see some action before May 15,” Stack said of Nasir’s pledge to city officials. “If he’s not ready on the 15th, we’ll begin proceeding on the 16th. We’ll do what we need to do.”
The former Riverside Osteopathic Hospital on Jefferson has sat vacant for years, and city officials have seen no progress by Nasir on plans he announced in 2009 when he bought the complex from Henry Ford Health Systems.
At the time Nasir planned to establish a nursing home, an estaimted $20 million project.
Those plans stalled when Nasir was unable to get sufficient deed modifications from Ford, and Trenton officials believed that Nasir was instead putting his energies into a similar project in another town, but Nasir told Brownfield Redevelopment officials that he now expects to relocate his own practice to Trenton, based out of the professional building on the Riverside lot.
The buildings — the main hospital, a professional building, church house and boiler room — have fallen into disrepair and been victimized by vandalism. Before Nasir _ or the city — can begin demolition work as scheduled on the church house and boiler room, Nasir must clear the structures of asbestos and mold. Stack said that abatement work must begin by May 15 to prevent the city from seeking a court order.
“We have to get something moving so we know what he wants to do,” Stack said. If Nasir does not begin efforts toward abatement and demolition, the city’s Building Code Board of Appeals — formerly the Dangerous Building Board — will file the necessary claims to take action on their own.
The city had requested permission to inspect the property, but Nasir maintained that he would provide Trenton officials with proper documentation once the buildings have been reviewed. At the Brownfield meeting Nasir confirmed that he had obtained the necessary permits to begin abatement efforts, and demolition would begin by August.
“He keeps telling me he’s a man of his word,” Stack said. “I hope he will do what he says he’s going to do.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])