Old hospital likely to become housing after demolition — possibly in part for hospital employees

The former location of Memorial Hospital is back under demolition after a pause due to a need for asbestos abatement.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

The longtime Craig hospital building at 785 Russell Street — more recently a middle-of-town eyesore — is finally slated for demolition, and the hospital says it’s got a good idea of what might take the old building’s place.

As demolition starts soon — hopefully this very week, according to hospital spokesperson and chief operating officer Jennifer Riley — there is work being done to develop the soon-to-be vacant land into residential space.

“Our primary goal is getting the building to the ground as quickly as possible,” Riley said. “It’s a huge eyesore. But in conjunction, Andy (Daniels, CEO of the hospital) has sat on a task force, a housing task force that talks about how as a community can we overcome some challenges we have with housing shortages.”

The former location of Memorial Hospital is back under demolition after a pause due to a need for asbestos abatement.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

Riley said that multiple stakeholders, including the city and the school district, have been in talks about ways to create space for more employee-grade housing — places where hospital employees can either transition to town or rent long-term, as well as potentially employees of the school district and others.

“We have a nice big piece of land that could be part of a bigger plan,” Riley said. “We always have a need for housing people who are moving here, whether temporary situations or short-term, and the school district has the same issue. They’re interested in what a housing plan could look like. At this point I don’t think there’s anything solid on how this moves forward, but when we met with the hospital board (last) Thursday to discuss goals for 2022, one is bringing a proposal for what to do with that land.”

Riley said that the discussion includes donating the land, potentially with the agreement that some housing would be dedicated to hospital staff, or even just donating it without restriction. She emphasized, however, that the hospital would not be owning the property long-term, much less operating as a landlord for residents. But the exact arrangement of land transfer is what remains to be seen.

“It depends, but it looks like there’s interest from the other stakeholders to have some housing built there,” she said. “I’m not sure if it’d be multi-family, single-family, but it looks like it’s heading to residential of some kind. And I think that’s a great use for it.”

Riley pointed out that the hospital building’s presence means that the land is already hooked up to all the standard utilities — electric, gas, sewer, water, etcetera. That’s something that the city is interested in helping facilitate as well.

The former location of Memorial Hospital is back under demolition after a pause due to a need for asbestos abatement.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

“The city is interested in anything related to housing,” said Peter Brixius, Craig’s city manager. “We’re open to discussions.”

Brixius said there might be options the city can help with in terms of tap fees and other utility hookup requirements that could make things easier for a developer to get moving on the project.

“Andy has a sketch plan together with a couple concepts the hospital is interested in,” Brixius said. “I think there might even be an interested development contractor as well.”

If a sizeable housing development were to be constructed in that space, which is more than 1.6 acres of land, it would be the first of its kind in years to be built in Craig. According to Marlin Eckhoff, the city’s building official, only eight total “stick-built” homes have been constructed in Craig city limits since 2017.

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