Almost there

Demolition of the former St. Joseph Hospital is very nearly complete. Little remained of the structure at midday Tuesday, the site was down to just a couple stories left by evening.

OTTUMWA — Housing at the former St. Joseph Hospital site won’t be completed as originally planned. The city’s incentive timeline isn’t changing, though.

Ottumwa offered a rebatement incentive to Blackbird Investments, which is creating the development through 312 E. Alta Vista, LLC. City Planner Kevin Flanagan said Tuesday the city needed to alter the date of completion for the project to conform with the delays caused by a dispute between Blackbird and its original contractor for demolition.

“The former date for completion of demolition was Sept. 1, 2018, and it is now Dec. 15, 2019. The former date for project completion was Dec. 31, 2023, and it is now Dec. 31, 2024,” Flanagan said.

Since the amount of money involved in the rebatement depends in part on the property’s value, it’s not clear precisely what this will cost Blackbird. It will be substantial, though. He said last week the change will likely cost Blackbird more than $100,000. He did not give a figure during Tuesday’s discussions.

Mayor Pro Tem Matt Dalbey praised the demolition work, which has moved swiftly since it resumed at the end of July. Much of the hospital’s main building remained in place when Drish Construction began its work under a contract that allowed it 70 days to complete demolition. Little was left Tuesday evening and the piles of rubble that had lined the site previously are gone.

“It is good to see the project back on track,” he said.

Councilman Skip Stevens has kept a close eye on the work, and was back at the site Tuesday.

“I came by [Tuesday afternoon] and all that was remaining was one or two stories where the elevator shaft used to be,” Stevens said.

“Right now we’re on track, so that’s good,” Flanagan agreed.

Incentives for another development project began working toward reality during Tuesday’s council session. Jim Danaher plans to redevelop the former Agassiz Elementary School for new apartments, a project that previously met with support from the council.

Local tax incentives, including a possible TIF district, are being sought for the 36-unit development, along with state incentives. None of those incentives are final.

Tuesday’s session was the first since the resignation of former City Administrator Andy Morris. Mayor Tom Lazio is serving as interim administrator, and he said work is beginning in the process to find a new administrator.

“We have an election in November and in speaking with City Attorney Joni Keith we’re talking about a three to six month period,” he said.

Matt Milner can be reached at and followed on Twitter @mwmilner


Managing Editor

Matt Milner currently serves as the Courier's Managing Editor. Milner is a trained weather spotter and is usually outside if there are storms. He joined the Courier in 2002.

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