City asked to consider its liens against former St. Elizabeth Hospital property that's rumored to be up for sale.

Although the former St. Elizabeth Hospital property in Hannibal is privately owned, city action regarding liens it has placed against the Virginia Street site could play a role in its sale to another developer.

During Monday afternoon's Building Commission meeting at City Hall, City Manager Jeff LaGarce said the city had received a letter earlier that day from a local law firm regarding the property. In short, the letter asked the city to resolve its lien issues with the property's current owner, Steve Owsley, to help clear the way for the sale of the site to an unnamed developer.

Owsley initially owed the city $3,338.32 for expenses incurred by Street Department workers while sealing the facility's first floor doors and windows. And while Owsley has made some payments, the bulk of the court-ordered fee remains to be paid.

Owsley also owes a comparable amount to the city for mowing and other property-upkeep work the city has had to perform in recent years.

Mayor James Hark suggested during Monday's meeting that dropping the liens would be far cheaper than allowing the city to be stuck with the full cost of demolishing the complex, which ceased being a healthcare facility in 1993.

Citing the legal nature of the liens, LaGarce indicated the matter will likely be taken up by the City Council in closed session during its Tuesday, April 18, meeting.

 

Sale offer

 

Reportedly, an offer has been made on the property which Owsleyacquired in August 2011 at a tax sale.

Sale rumors have been swirling around the former St. Elizabeth Hospital for months. During court hearings earlier this year before 10th Circuit Court Judge Rachel Bringer Shepherd, Owsley indicated that a sale of the property was imminent. Following Owsley's March 3 hearing Sara Ehret, Owsley's court-appointed attorney, said progress was being made on financing the transaction.

During the March Building Commission meeting, LaGarce reported that he was aware of two developers who had expressed interest in the complex, a portion of which is more than 100 years old.
LaGarce said he had spoken to one interested party two or three times. Inquiries regarding the site had also been fielded by the Northeast Missouri Economic Development Council's office.

If the sale goes through the property would reportedly be converted into a residential rehab facility.

“We want it to be renovated,” said LaGarce.

Hark indicted he is hopeful there will be some positive news regarding the site by early May when he completes his first year as mayor.

Hark is realistic regarding rumored developments involving the Virginia Street site.

“I've heard the 'rainbow' talk before,” he said, adding he does not want to needlessly raise the hopes of those who live in the central-Hannibal neighborhood where the property is located.

 

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com