Few takers on former hospital property

North parking lot could become senior housing complex
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There has apparently been limited interest from developers in the former Shawano Medical Center property, with only three proposals coming forward since marketing of the property began last year.

Two of those have since withdrawn their proposals, according to the city.

The Shawano Common Council will meet in closed session at a special meeting Monday to discuss the property, but it’s not clear whether officials will decide on the remaining proposal or open things up for broader marketing.

Plan commission member Lorna Marquardt at a meeting last week questioned whether there had been sufficient marketing, especially given that the initial marketing efforts took place before the hospital building was razed and the property restored to green space.

City Administrator Brian Knapp said requests for proposals were sent to several dozen developers and realtors.

“We had very little interest,” he said. “We ended up with three proposals at the time. Two of those have withdrawn. There’s still one that’s somewhat viable.”

Knapp said in an interview in October of last year that the city had received two proposals at that time, both of which involved multi-unit, residential housing, but “each has other elements associated with them.”

Knapp did not specify at last week’s plan commission what the remaining viable option might be, but a proposal that could still be on the table is one that was offered by Todd Dobberstein, who led a citizen’s group proposing that the former hospital site be converted into a multi-use community center.

Dobberstein attended the plan commission meeting.

The former SMC campus consists of about 10 acres overlooking the Wolf River near downtown Shawano.

The city owns a roughly 3.5-acre parcel of the property that became home to the original Shawano Medical Center in 1931 and was leased from the city.

Shawano Medical Center purchased additional land for expansion over the years. That portion of the property is now owned by ThedaCare.

While finding developers for the full 10 acres of the property has proven difficult, there is an offer pending to make use of the north parking lot.

Knapp said there is a proposal that will come before the plan commission, along with a public hearing on the question, at the commission’s Nov. 1 meeting.

The proposal is a 40-unit senior housing complex.

“That may have to go through a little dance with the city and ThedaCare in order to transfer ownership,” Knapp said.

Knapp said there could also be some concerns raised by neighbors.

“One of the things that may be of concern is that it’s a four-story building,” he said. “It’s very attractive and well-designed, but it is a significant height difference from the surrounding neighborhood and that could be a concern, and legitimately so, for the neighborhood.”

Knapp said none of the other proposals for the SMC campus made any use of the north parking lot.

“The reality is there’s been absolutely no interest in the parking lot,” he said. “They weren’t really interested in this piece of the property.”

Knapp said slicing the parking lot off to make way for the senior housing complex isn’t necessarily the best option or the most preferred.

“But it might be the only option as far as we know,” he said.

Knapp said another alternative might be to clear the parking lot and restore that portion of the property so it could be subdivided into single family housing and marketed that way.

However, Knapp said, “We don’t know who might be interested in doing that. The city hasn’t been successful in that type of endeavor and ThedaCare doesn’t have any interest in it as well.”