“We think it will work,” said Bryant Morehead, Haywood County’s manager. “It’s not perfect, but it’s a great use of our facility.”
Last August, Landmark Asset Services finally qualified for tax credits that would make conversion of the old hospital into housing for veterans and the elderly financially feasible, after three previous unsuccessful attempts.
In doing so, it foreshadowed the end of an era for HCS’ central administration, which had used the drafty, leaky building to house administrators since 1980.
A number of potential destinations for HCS had been bandied about, including the former Central Elementary School in Waynesville, a new $13 million, 40,000 square-foot facility called the “Educational Support Center” proposed by HCS days after the tax credits were announced, or the Annex 2 building across the street from the current offices.
On May 4, Haywood County commissioners voted unanimously to convey the 1.15-acre Annex 2 property to HCS, along with the two-story 14,000 square-foot building now home to Big Brothers/Big Sisters, The Triangle Club, and the United Way of Haywood County.
The whole situation is a big financial plus for the county, which had been paying $7,000 a month to maintain the dilapidated old hospital. As a county-owned property since its construction in 1927, it’s never been on the ad-valorem tax rolls.
In ridding itself of the building, the county not only picks up that yearly tax revenue, but also the $225,000 sale price to the developer Landmark. In moving across the street to the county-owned Annex 2 building, the county also saves the cost of constructing, purchasing or leasing another site.
The move, expected by the end of the year, isn’t without cost, however. During the May 4 meeting, commissioners also appropriated $750,000 from fund balance for renovations of the Annex 2 building.
HCS Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte thanked commissioners for their work.
“We think the facility and the renovation funds will be appropriate to make that a building that will last for many decades,” Nolte said.
The move to Annex 2 appears to be a permanent one, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the proposed Educational Support Center is off the table.
“I know you were looking at consolidation of services and we’re be looking at that in the future, too,” said Kevin Ensley, chairman of the Haywood County Board of Commissioners.
As for the existing tenants, they’re expected to be out by soon, and will have to find new spaces of their own.
Landmark Asset Services hasn’t yet begun site work on the old hospital, which is expected to welcome its first residents sometime in 2021.