Hodge said leaders in the public sector and those involved in economic development are extremely motivated to see the property redeveloped.
“There’s a bunch of different stuff that could happen out here,” said Rome Commissioner Bill Collins. “I didn’t see anything that was run down.”
Richard Aghajanian, the site manager for the State Properties Commission, said the state is spending close to a million dollars a year on maintenance of the site pending any kind of redevelopment.
“Renovations wouldn’t have to be as massive as otherwise if they had unplugged, so to speak,” Hodge said. He said Governor Deal had promised the site would be kept up so that anyone passing by, or being brought specifically to look at the campus, would not see a property that looked as if it had simply been abandoned.
Rome Commissioner Randy Quick said, “When you’re on the campus you could be anywhere.” He pointed to a view of Lavender Mountain and noted the lack of noise from traffic on Redmond Circle or Division Street.
The city of Rome has exhausted a couple of option periods the State Properties Commission extended to the community to develop a plan for the property and attract new tenants to the site.
During the initial option period, consulting firm Tunnel Walsh and Spangler working with the Bleakly Advisory Group, local representatives of William’s, Sweitzer and Barnum engineering and local architect Robert Noble put together a mixed-use redevelopment plan for the property, which included a large parcel designated for advanced manufacturing along with tracts earmarked for high-technology and office use, medical space, some multi-family residential use and a small slice of land for retail space.
Back in 2015, Adam Williamson, TSW lead consultant, envisioned a large futuristic-looking “iconic building” to anchor the redevelopment.
Ken Bleakly said such a development could provide upwards of 3,000 jobs with payrolls approaching $100 million. The conceptual redevelopment plan was projected to provide somewhere between $1 million to $1.5 million in annual property taxes.
The cost of redeveloping the old hospital property could range from $9 million to $22 million
Given the good condition of most of the 60-plus buildings on the 132-acre campus, Hodge said future use of the property was wide-open.
“In many ways we’re using the Tunnell-Spangler-Walsh (study) regarding the marketing,” Hodge said.
Rome developer Ira Levy suggested that many of the buildings on the campus could be used again.
“No, you don’t have to tear them down,” Levy said. “You just have to be a little creative to repurpose them.”
City commissioner Bill Irmscher said the pharmacy and laboratory building, the “newest” on the campus, might be ideal for use by a bio-technology industry.
Hodge said the Chamber is marketing the property as a whole, or in part to different prospects.
“Some have looked at specific buildings,” Hodge said.
The elephant in the room continues to be the state’s bonded indebtedness on the property. When the city first approached the state about acquiring the site, the debt on the land was close to $7 million. State Representative Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, said his latest information from state officials is that the debt was slightly less than $4 million.
Rome City Manager Sammy Rich said he is excited about the renewed interest and commitment for community leaders to try to find a way to redevelop the property that will be a major benefit to the community.
The Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital was closed in 2011. The property is bounded by the four-lane Redmond Circle, Division Street and an east-west rail spur.