The Denison City Council gave an extension for the redevelopment of a set of doctor’s offices on Martin Luther King Street into a new multi-family development Monday night. This marks the third time that the council has granted developer Chip Piazza additional time for site prep, demolition and construction on the project.
In December, the city provided a 90-day extension on site prep demolition following the discovery of asbestos in the buildings. The abatement and demolition of the former doctor’s offices outside of the former Texoma Medical Center has since been completed.
As part of Monday’s action, the city council granted Piazza until June 1 to complete work on a new roof at the building, and until July to present future plans for the site.
“The biggest problem, honestly, I am having is the numbers,” Piazza said, referring to unexpected asbestos abatement that delayed the project.
Piazza said the abatement significantly increased the cost of the project beyond what could be realistically expected out of current rental rates. As such, he proposed to finish the work on the roof and leave the site open in expectation that rising rental rates could soon support the project.
Piazza said he could construct walls to enclose the building, if the city desired, but he was hesitant as these would need to be removed later for a more permanent solution.
In October, the city council was slated to declare the former doctor’s offices as unsafe structures and add them to the demolition list. However, Piazza asked for an extension in order to prepare the site for redevelopment into a 16-unit apartment development.
The council ultimately gave Piazza a two-month extension to complete site demolition, which would include a complete interior demolition and taking the building down to its frame. At the time, Piazza said he expected demolition to take about six weeks with an additional six months to complete design work.
During the October meeting, city officials expressed some concerns about the lack of an immediate timeframe for the project, and asked that Piazza finish the interior demolitions and then return to the city to discuss future development.
“What we can’t do is be out 12 months from now and have no progress out there,” Mayor Jared Johnson said.
The council ultimately voted unanimously to give Piazza two months to complete the interior demolition and then return back to the city to discuss future plans. Council member Kris Spiegel said the city typically offers six months to complete the full project, but noted that this was a unique case that went well beyond the scope of what is typically brought before the council.
Piazza’s plans for the site was not universally embraced by the council during Monday night’s meeting. Council member Janet Gott expressed some concern that there was not a completion date in place following multiple extensions by the council. Under normal situations where a property owner asks council for more time to complete renovations, historically the council has given six months to complete work.
“At some point in time, we need to have a completion date,” Gott said. “It has been six months already.”
Conversely, Spiegel said he has seen progress at the site and was comfortable with the extension.
“I have no issue giving more time as long as he continues to invest in the property,” Spiegel said.
Documents for Monday’s meeting said Piazza is waiting on financing for the renovations, but financial institutes are asking for additional information on the former TMC building before approving the loan. In December, officials with the city announced that Universal Health Services, parent company of TMC, planned to begin demolitions of the building.
However, on Monday night city officials said they were not certain of the future following interest by a third party in redevelopment. Calls to UHS for comment were not immediately returned Monday.
“When you are developing multi-family, there is always an interest in the surrounding uses,” Piazza said, referring to questions on the future of the former hospital site.