PELL CITY — The city issued a notice to proceed, and workers have begun removing hazardous materials from the former St. Clair County Hospital.
City Manager Brian Muenger said Thursday removing hazardous materials is the first step in the demolition and removal of the former hospital.
The council hired Virginia Wrecking Co. at a cost of $574,143 for the abatement and demolition of the building, which has remained dormant for the past eight years.
“For this company, this is not a particularly large job,” Muenger said.
A subcontractor for Virginia Wrecking, Gulf Services Contracting Inc., is completing the abatement work, he said, removing hazardous materials from the former hospital -- materials like asbestos and mercury.
Muenger said the company will use 15-18 people for the abatement process.
“They will start at the top floor and work their way down,” he said.
Muenger said removing all hazardous materials from the building will take four-five weeks. Once finished, it should not take long for the building to be demolished.
Virginia Wrecking will tear down the hospital mechanically. Explosives won’t be used, Muenger said.
“They have the right equipment to do it,” he said. “They are basically going to pull the building down.”
“They have 90 calendar days to complete the work,” Muenger said, which sets the deadline at Oct. 6.
Workers are going to try and make the 19-acre site, which is just south of Interstate 20 and adjacent to the McSweeney Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram car dealership, as level as possible.
During its meeting this week, the council approved hiring Environmental Inc. of Odenville, at a cost to not exceed $28,500, to oversee and monitor the removal of hazardous materials from the former hospital.
The St. Clair County Commission and Pell City jointly own the former hospital property, and officials said the property is prime commercial development land.
Officials hope to recoup money spent on the property through future property and sales taxes the land could generate once developed.
The St. Clair County Commission and Pell City jointly bought the property from the St. Clair County Healthcare Authority, providing needed funds for the construction of the new St. Vincent’s St. Clair Hospital on Veterans Parkway.
The municipality has received a $200,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to help pay for the demolition of the former hospital, and last year, the City Council and County Commission approved an option agreement with Bill Ellison, Southside Land Venture LLC, who has two years to purchase the property for a commercial retail development.
In accordance with the agreement, Ellison will market the property for commercial development with the option to buy the land at a cost of $4 million.
Also in the agreement, the city and county agreed to move forward with the demolition and removal of the former hospital.
Ellison has brought major retailers to Pell City in the past, including Walmart, The Home Depot, Walgreens and Publix.