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Old hospital complex to be sold for $1.1M

Investors plan to use the site, once considered for a new government center, for an assisted living facility.

By ASJYLYN LODER
Published February 7, 2007


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BROOKSVILLE - The Hernando County Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to sell the old Brooksville hospital for $1.1-million to investors who plan to build an assisted living facility.

The decision ends months of hand-wringing about the fate of the vacant 11-acre hospital complex on Ponce de Leon Boulevard, which costs the county nearly $50,000 a month to maintain.

Commissioner Dave Russell said it was the "realistic" thing to do. Since last year, the County Commission considered converting the hospital into a new government center, while turning the N Main Street center into a courthouse. But cost estimates topped $20-million.

"Frankly, this county doesn't have the revenue to accomplish that," Russell said.

Russell and fellow commission newcomer Rose Rocco promised during their campaigns to make a swift decision on what to do with the 118,000-square-foot hospital.

The vote Tuesday makes good on that promise, but doesn't answer how the county will accommodate the rapidly expanding court system.

Developer Bill Rain said he was pleased with the board's decision. He and three other investors plan a 60-bed assisted living facility combined with office and retail space. The 100,000-square-foot complex will be called the Oaks Towne Centre.

The county will also carve out a piece of the property that now houses administrative space for Hernando County Fire Rescue.

Rain beat out a proposal by Narconon of Greater Tampa Bay to convert the facility into a residential treatment center for drug and alcohol addiction. His proposal included mockups of the Oaks Towne Centre and details on how the project will be financed.

The 41-year-old developer said he's completed more than 1-million square feet of redevelopment in his career.

Rain and investor Terence McCarthy, who did not attend Tuesday's meeting, also partner on two assisted living facilities in the county: Forest Oaks in Spring Hill and Spring Oaks in Brooksville.

Once the contract is agreed upon, Rain can close on the sale quickly, he said. He hoped to start the planned project in May.

A contract could be reached by the end of February, said Deputy County Administrator Larry Jennings. However, any unforeseen developments - like a costly environmental problem - could derail the deal.

"We feel confident we can work through the details without a lot of issues," Rain said.

Asjylyn Loder can be reached at aloder@sptimes.com or 352754-6127.

Fast Facts:

 

What happened?

On Tuesday, the County Commission voted unanimously to sell the old Brooksville Hospital on Ponce de Leon Boulevard for $1.1-million.

A group of four investors calling themselves 55 Ponce De Leon LLC. The group includes Bill Rain, who says he's redeveloped more than 1-million square feet in his career; Terence J. McCarthy, who runs five assisted living facilities in Florida, including two in Hernando County; entrepreneur Gerald Weiner, founder of eLogic Services in Tampa, who has pledged financial support for the project; and investor David Mallitz.

Convert it into a 100,000-square-foot mixed-use complex, including a 60-bed assisted-living facility along with office and retail space.

The county and the investors will negotiate a contract, which could be done by March. The investors hope to start the project as early as May, with the first tenants moving in one year later, and completion in late 2008.

[Last modified February 6, 2007, 22:01:40]


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