CAMC to demolish former nursing home for parking
Charleston Area Medical Center plans to demolish the former Arthur B. Hodges Center nursing home along Morris Street to make room for additional parking for its General Hospital.
Workers have placed temporary fencing around the building to keep out passersby. The hospital plans to tear down the building soon, CAMC spokesman Dale Witte said.
"We're in the process of demolishing it," he said.
After the Hodges Center closed in 2003, the CAMC Foundation bought it for $6 million. Officials had planned to remodel the building for other uses, but that didn't pan out. CAMC has instead used the building for storage.
"We've explored general uses for it, but nothing was a good fit," Witte said. "It's just too costly to try and convert the building for any type of hospital use because the building codes have changed since it was built."
Witte said hospital officials have decided the best use for the land right now is for parking.
The building takes up about two-thirds of the block along Morris and Lewis streets.
"Tearing down that building will give us 212 parking spaces," Witte said.
He said officials have not yet decided if that parking will be for hospital staff or for visitors. That decision will be made in the coming weeks.
He also said the property may not remain a parking lot indefinitely.
Witte said if hospital officials come up with a better use for the land in the future, they may move forward with constructing a new building.
"It'll be there empty with the fence around it until we decide what we need it for," he said.
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper has been critical of the hospital in the past for simply using the building for storage.
He said he and city officials tried at one point to move the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department to that location but former officials at the health department did not buy into the move.
Carper said Thursday he stood behind CAMC President and CEO David Ramsey's decision to use the space for parking.
"Frankly, I've never seen him use bad judgment," Carper said.
Witte said workers would need to clear the building of asbestos before beginning the full demolition.
While the demolition is set to begin soon, he said paving of the parking lot would not begin until the weather warms this spring.
Contact writer Jared Hunt at email@example.com or 304-348-4836.