The former St. Elizabeth Hospital building, 109 Virginia St. in Hannibal, is reportedly being offered up for sale by its owner, Steve Owsley.
While Owsley could not be reached for comment, a source with knowledge of recent developments involving the property, offered confirmation.
City Manager Jeff LaGarce had little to say on what he knows on the topic.
"I cannot comment, other than to say there is interest in the property," he said.
Now Mayor James Hark expressed greater interest in the property’s upkeep, than with who owns it.
"There is some talk of it changing hands, but I’ve heard that rhetoric before and that’s not an excuse to quit taking care of your property on the promise of some future exchange of ownership. You take care of it until it is no longer your responsibility," he said.
Building Inspector Joey Burnham, who recently spoke with Owsley about broken windows at the site, reported the property owner "mentioned nothing about this (rumored sale)."
Reportedly a sale to an out-of-town company was to have been finalized late last month. But a month after the rumored closing date, it still belongs to Owsley.
According to the source, the purchasing firm intended to tear down the structure, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, recouping its investment through the resale of its thousands of bricks and other recyclables.
The site was up for tax sale in August 2011 when Owsley purchased the building and parking lot located east of Virginia Street. The former health-care center was purchased from Mikayla Properties, LLC, of Foristell.
In November 2011 it was announced that Owsley planned to seek low income housing tax credits from the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC) to help pay for the cost of converting a portion of the facility into 55 apartments — 25 one-bedroom units and 30 two bedroom units.
Owsley’s proposed project has never been approved for state assistance by the MHDC, despite multiple attempts.
In February 2015, LaGarce met with an engineer, architect and a financial advisor representing a potential investor in the property. The investor, who intended to seek state tax credits for a planned renovation, informed LaGarce in late February that he was delaying his application to the MHDC until that summer. However, the St. Elizabeth Senior Apartments project was not submitted for funding consideration in 2015, according to a MHDC spokesman.
As the condition of the vandal-ravaged property has declined, it has become a growing concern for residents of the neighborhood and city officials. The Fire Department has been called to the site on multiple occasions to extinguish minor fires.
In January, 2014, Joey Burnham, city building inspector, condemned the property after viewing potentially hazardous conditions inside the structure. A little over a year ago, Burnham OK’d work crews entering the structure to undertake a partial cleanup of the interior.
Because of conditions at the former hospital, the city threatened to file a petition for common law nuisance against Owsley if he didn’t get the property’s doors and windows secured.
St. Elizabeth Hospital opened to patients in 1915.
It was the second hospital constructed in Hannibal and the city’s first private hospital .
After the hospital ‘s initial construction, additions were wrapped up in 1922, 1928, 1940, 1956 and 1973. The building ceased being a healthcare facility in 1993.
The Chapel Hill Commercial Group purchased the property in 2007, but closed the facility in 2009 after encountering financial issues.
Reach reporter Danny Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org