North Charleston mayor says city will seek new developer if hospital deal not soon completed
It’s been a year since North Charleston decided to buy the former Naval Hospital at Rivers and McMillan avenues for $2 million, and the city is still waiting to complete a deal with a developer that was announced in December.
The city owns the 10-story hospital building and a 16-acre vacant property across the street where the Pinehaven/Shipwatch Square shopping center once stood. The city agreed to sell both properties for $9.2 million, in a plan to redevelop the area and bring a full-service grocery store to that part of North Charleston.
In April, Mayor Keith Summey said the buyers, known as Chicora Gardens LLC, were ready to complete the purchase of the shopping center site, but were still examining the hospital building. The identity of the developers behind the LLC has not been revealed.
“They are still doing due diligence on the hospital, testing some fibers for asbestos,” the mayor told City Council at the time.
He told the developers the city would only agree to sell both properties at once.
Now, nearly six months later, Summey says he believes the developers are still working on a master plan for the site, but he’s prepared to put the properties back on the market if the deal isn’t completed soon.
“A letter has been sent to the purchaser saying that they have until the end of the year to close,” Summey said Thursday. “If they do not close we will move away from that contract, keep the $1 million dollars (on deposit from the developers), and talk to others who have expressed interest.”
When the city bought the hospital in October 2012, he said the federal government had been paying $1.2 million yearly for security guards and heating and cooling for the building, but Summey expected the city’s cost for maintaining the property would be lower.
The mayor didn’t lay out the city’s expenses when he gave his update.
The Pinehaven/Shipwatch Square property cost the city about $4.2 million to purchase and clear, so along with the hospital purchase and upkeep, it appears the city has about $7 million invested in the two properties.
The former 175-bed hospital is the tallest building in North Charleston, and once served the former Charleston Naval Base and Shipyard nearby. It sits on 24 acres with a 900-car parking lot, and has been vacant since 2010.
Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or Twitter @DSladeNews.