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Old hospital to be repurposed into senior housing

Haywood County’s seniors are one step closer to having more affordable housing options.

County commissioners last week agreed to sell the old hospital to Fitch Development Company for $1.275 million. They will then undertake the mammoth task of turning the old four-story brick hospital into one-and-two bedroom apartments for senior citizens who need affordable housing.

The number of units isn’t finalized, but County Manager Marty Stamey has said that current plans call for 53 units.

The building currently serves as offices for the Department of Social Services and central offices for Haywood County Schools, which are moving out.

County Attorney Chip Killian said that, after interviews and negotiations with Fitch, he’s confident that they’re the right firm for the complex job, which will require jumps through a number of funding and regulatory hoops. To make the project economically feasible, Fitch needs to land housing tax credits, a small county loan and national historic designation.

“These things are very complicated,” said Killian. “I think everybody feels real good about Fitch Development Company in that they’re very motivated and competent to do this kind of project.”

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The hospital is a historic entity that holds a place in state history as North Carolina’s first county hospital.

Killian told commissioners that, with their approval, the purchase price is set but closing won’t take place before March 2012.

The Smoky Mountain Center, which occupies a building at the rear of the site, will remain.

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