Former Springfield hospital demolished

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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The former Mercy Medical Center in Springfield was demolished on Monday afternoon.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The project is expected to be completed in late September.


By the numbers

$3.5M: Cost of the demolition at the former Mercy Medical Center on North Fountain Boulevard.

55,000: Square footage of the former hospital.

66: Age of the building, which opened in 1950.

MORE ONLINE: For more photos and video of the Mercy Medical Center demolition, log on to SpringfieldNewsSun.com.

Staying with story

The Springfield News-Sun has tracked the plans for both former hospital sites since they closed, including stories digging into the demolitions and possible new uses for the properties.

The last remaining portion of the former Mercy Medical Center on Fountain Boulevard — what many hailed as a piece of Springfield’s history — was razed Monday afternoon.

About 100 people lined the street as the main section of the former hospital came down as part of the $3.5 million demolition project.

“It’s a piece of Springfield,” said local photographer Caleb Perry, who came early to get a prime spot to take photos. “It’s sad to see it go. I’m here to see history.”

The project is expected to be completed in late September, which includes clearing debris and leveling the surface, Community Mercy Health Partners spokesman Dave Lamb said. The south wing was demolished last week, while the north wing was brought down earlier this month.

The organization began tearing down the 550,000-square-foot former hospital in March.

Several options are still on the table for redevelopment of the site, Lamb said, including residential and commercial uses. A committee is reviewing those options.

“There’s no logical, feasible reuse for the facility,” Lamb said. “We had to remove extensive amounts of asbestos. There was no reuse. It was time for it to come down. It’s not fair for the neighborhood to leave up an old empty building. Now we’re on to the next chapter.”

The demolition was expected to begin at about 1 p.m., but it took about 40 minutes to get the building down.

“It wasn’t much of a problem,” said Tony Smith, owner of Tony Smith Wrecking. “We just want to be safe. We took our time. You just have to fracture those columns in a certain to way to get them.”

Mercy Medical Center closed in 2010 after merging with Community Hospital to form Community Mercy Health Partners. The new medical group then opened the downtown Springfield Regional Medical Center in late 2011.

The former Community Hospital was demolished in 2014. A $9.3 million senior living development was planned at the former site, but developer Neighborhood Housing Partnership has been denied tax credits for the site by a state housing agency for two consecutive years.

The organization wants to build the 80-unit Community Gardens on the 11.5-acre site at Burnett Road and East High Street. The proposal is now stalled.

The hospital will still have a presence on Fountain Boulevard. About $1.6 million was spent in 2014 to renovate the former Mercy St. John's Center, which was later renamed the Mitchell-Thomas Center. About 50 employees work there, while the Excel Pediatric Rehab was also recently moved to the former daycare center nearby.

The Springfield Regional Imaging Center will also remain open at the site, Lamb said.

“It will now be more visible to people driving by,” he said.

Perry, who lives in the neighborhood north of Harding Road, was one of the first people who lined up to watch the demolition. He hopes to share the photos with students he teaches at the YouMedia Center. Perry would like a see a nice movie theater take its place, he said.

“I’m here because I love photography,” Perry said. “Other than my kids, this is probably the coolest thing I’ll photograph today.”

Bill Zimmer, who has lived nearby on Third Street for 27 years, spent lots of time at the hospital both as a patient and a visitor.

Zimmer would like to see housing at the former hospital site, but said it doesn’t matter to him what’s put there.

“We’ll miss it,” Zimmer said.

Larry M. Hopkins and his wife, Anna, who live across the street on North Fountain Boulevard, missed the demolition, but heard it from their home and walked across the street to see the aftermath. While the hospital is close to their hearts, Larry Hopkins said they hope whatever is developed there can contribute to Springfield’s growth.

“At one time, we had heard Wittenberg would take advantage of the building,” he said. “Whatever they decide is fine with us. They have guys smarter than me making those decisions.”

Joyce Trego, who has lived across the street on North Fountain Boulevard for more than 43 years, was sad to watch the building demolished. She was video chatting with her daughter, who lives in Orlando, while the building came down.

Trego has concerns about what’s coming next, she said. She’d like to see a nice green space for the area, she said.

“It kind of worries me,” Trego said. “I’ve been so used to see the hospital. I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. It’s a sad thing.”

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