The former site of St. Joseph Hospital has been quiet since demolition ended last year, but Mayor Tom Lazio said work is expected to resume soon.

OTTUMWA — Mayor Tom Lazio said Thursday the long-delayed Blackbird development at the former St. Joseph Hospital site should resume work next month.

Lazio said officials with Blackbird Investments called him and said the company has finally gotten a loan it needed from a Des Moines bank. A contract has been signed to begin work on the site’s infrastructure.

Those initial steps will be done by Drish Construction, the same company that Blackbird hired after a nearly year-long pause in demolition of the former hospital. The company completed demolition in considerably less time than required in its contract.

Lazio said Drish will begin installing the infrastructure after the Fourth of July. Work on pouring concrete for the site will follow.

Originally proposed in late 2014 as conversion of the hospital into apartments, the plan has evolved to include a 57-unit development for both single-family and multi-family homes. Lazio’s comments represent the first update on proceedings in more than a year. The last such update was in May 2019, when Blackbird officials came before the city council to apologize about delays in the demolition and announce Drish had been hired to finish that work.

Additional questions arose earlier this year when a website set up by Blackbird to promote the St. Joseph’s Square development went dark. That website,, is now functioning again.

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


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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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