Demo of TB hospital remains cost prohibitive

The former Lima Tuberculosis Hospital is in rough shape.

The former Lima Tuberculosis Hospital is in rough shape.

Craig J. Orosz | The Lima News

LIMA — Despite recent trends of increased trespassing at the former Lima Tuberculosis Hospital, demolition of the property may still be out of reach.

“Vacant commercial buildings like this are a concern, but the issues are complex,” City Public Works Director Howard Elstro said. “When buildings become depleted, the question is: ‘What will be done with them?’”

Most of the time, that answer is simply nothing. It’s not uncommon to find a number of large abandoned commercial properties scattered throughout the region. The City of Lima has helped take down a few of them, but in the case of the TB hospital, it’s not exactly high on the city’s list of priorities.

Elstro said the reasons are twofold. First, the hospital itself doesn’t pose a significant safety threat to passersby.

“The building is not a threat to the general public. It’s only a threat to those that have unlawfully trespassed a pretty far distance across private property to reach it,” he said.

Second, demolition would be costly.

Built prior to 1911, the building is full of asbestos, which was a more common building material 100 years ago. To properly dispose of such materials, Elstro estimated that demolition of the hospital itself would cost upwards of a $1 million. He put a much higher price tag — $20 to $30 million — to clear the entire campus where the hospital sits for much the same reason.

“These larger buildings built back in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s or earlier, most of them contain asbestos and require environmental cleanups,” Elstro said.

If the city were to help the current owner clear the site, Elstro said the only foreseeable way is to find some sort of state or federal grant to aid in the demolition’s cost.

“When state or federal resources become available, we compete for them. Sometimes, there are state and federal resources for the cleanup of industrial sites or for re-purposing those sites, but we’ve not seen those available for several years,” he said.

Until such dollars are found, additional foot patrols will have to work to keep the public from trespassing. According to the Lima Police Department, 586 people illegally visited the site over the last 30 days, and increased foot patrols have been introduced as a countermeasure.

Police warn that any trespassers found will be arrested on sight, with zero exceptions.

The former Lima Tuberculosis Hospital is in rough shape.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.