A developer has a contract to buy the former Northwest Community Hospital at 1818 48th St. from Hubbell Realty Co. He hopes to convert the structure into residential and commercial space. Photo courtesy of the Polk County assessor

 

A former northwest Des Moines medical center that has sat empty for about five years could be redeveloped into residential and commercial space, the Business Record has learned.

Developer Jeff Young has a contract to buy the former Mercy Franklin Center at 1818 48th St. for $525,000 from Hubbell Realty Co., Hubbell officials and Young said. The center originally housed Northwest Community Hospital. 

Young, who owns the former Franklin Junior High School building to the north of the empty medical structure, hopes to complete the deal by late summer.

Young, in an interview with the Business Record, said he envisions commercial and retail on the ground level of the structure, built in 1962. He also is considering building one to two floors on top of the building for condominiums that would be rented or sold.

Hubbell bought the 3.6-acre tract in 2016 for $280,000 from Catholic Health Initiatives-Iowa Corp., Polk County assessor records show.

The company researched different uses for the property including assisted living, apartments for older adults and townhouses, according to Claire Brehmer, communications specialist with Hubbell. Company officials decided not to redevelop the site, partially because of the cost to tear down the medical building, she wrote in an email to the Business Record.

The sale price covers the costs Hubbell has incurred to maintain the building, Brehmer wrote.

“A lot of bigger companies find old buildings, tear them down and build back up,” Young said. “They don’t look at buildings like the hospital and ask, ‘How can we repurpose it?’ ”

The nearly 60,000-square-foot building was used as a community hospital for several years before being acquired by Mercy Medical Center-Des Moines, which had used the facility for adult and pediatric psychiatric care. 

The facility closed in 2014.

Young plans to finalize the sale with Hubbell after the Franklin Junior High School site is rezoned

The Des Moines City Council on Monday approved the first reading of an ordinance to rezone the former school and church site from a limited neighborhood retail commercial district to a planned unit development, or PUD. 

The council must vote on the rezoning request two more times before it is finalized.

Young  plans to transform the former west-side school into an event center and hotel.