By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON – City officials this week may consider taking further action to resolve long-standing questions about the future of the Riverside Hospital complex.
Tuesday’s City Council agenda includes consideration of a letter from the Dangerous Buildings Board, which last month discussed options for the property including partial demolition of the long-dormant structures.
Mayor Kyle Stack said the lack of progress at Riverside has become unacceptable both to city officials and the residents who live near the former osteopathic hospital grounds on West Jefferson.
“I’m to the point where I’m tired of talking about it,” Stack said. “My message to the owner is, ‘Come tell me what you’ll do and give me deadlines.’ Otherwise we’re tired of not having anything done.”
Negotiations between the city and property owner Dr. Iqbal Nasir have resulted in little progress since 2010, when Nasir purchased the land from Henry Ford Health Systems.
In late 2014 residents demanded more action and answers, and city officials began taking official steps to either confirm a plan for the property or take other actions. Along with last month’s hearing before the Dangerous Building Board, city officials also revoked a 2011 Brownfield Redevelopment Authority agreement that had been put in place to spur development.
City Administrator Jim Wagner said last month that Nasir’s proposed projects – a medical office complex for the Jefferson-facing buildings and potential nursing facility for the hospital buildings – was “in jeopardy” of dissolving. The Brownfield authority was cancelled due to lack of progress and absence of sustained communications between developers and the nearby residents.
Stack said that if the two former hospital buildings were declared dangerous – and resident complaints include the lack of maintenance and vacant buildings attracting vandalism and possible criminal activity – the city would have more authority to demand a resolution.
“It’s time to put the hammer down,” Stack said. “We’re waiting for the (Dangerous Building Board decision) to be announced, and after that we’ll be able to move forward with whatever we’re able to do.”
The council meeting begins at 8 p.m. Feb. 17 at City Hall, 2800 Third St.
(James Mitchell can be reached at [email protected])