Property Managers Look to Turn Abandoned Hospital to Affordable Housing

Quality tax incentives spur interest

According to property owners, there is only one likely solution to the use of abandoned Haywood Department of Social Services building: Turn them into apartments.

The old and now rundown four-story brick building, originally used as a hospital in the 1940s is in serious need for renovation and remaining. IT was most recently a DSS office selection, but has since been emptied and has sat abandoned for two years.

The county would now like to sell it off, but there are few interested parties that. The act of selling is heavily burdened with the need for renovation to the old property.

Thus, Haywood County, along with the town of Waynesville and the Haywood Advancement Foundation have collaborated to create the University of North Carolina School of Government in order to find recommendations available to the building.

“That building impacts us both greatly,” said Waynesville Alderman Wells Greeley.

The outcomes of the investigation will be presented later to the county and town leaders. The study will also look at the concepts available, such as business, hospital, or hotel property usage. But each of which has been deemed as likely impossible renovations due to a low revenue potential. That is why the concept of renting the spaces makes the most sense.

Property managers believe it would be marketable as living quarters with the proper renovations for multiple reasons.

“The sales point would be the historic nature of it,” said Haywood Commissioner Kevin Ensley.

One of the lending options that is currently available is low-income apartments. Such housing could qualify for large tax credits and incentives for any developer willing to take on the project. That said, Haywood County officials have attempted this move before with other properties. It has not been easy. Earlier projects failed to come to fruition and quality performance.

“The primary reason this project failed is because of a low site score,” said Jordan Jones, a community revitalization fellow at Development Finance Initiative at the UNC School of Government.

Experts believe, however, that this time the problems of previous projects will not exist thanks to the credits and grants that can be afforded to the possible 54-unit property. That can only be the case if action is taken quickly.

“We recommend that the county go ahead and move forward quickly on this,” Jones said referring to the tax credit application process.

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