LAFAYETTE – Last June, with considerable fanfare, developers announced plans to put $4.3 million into the four-story building that had housed the St. Elizabeth School of Nursing – not to mention St. Francis High School, a parochial school for girls that predated Central Catholic – for close to a century.
The nursing school at 1508 Tippecanoe St. had moved across the street in 2017, part of the ongoing consolidation and rethinking of a 30-acre health campus going on in Lafayette’s north end since Franciscan Health Lafayette moved most of its inpatient units to an east campus, four miles away on Creasy Lane, nine years ago.
“St. Elizabeth Hospital is such an important part of the fabric of the city,” Peter Levavi, senior vice president of Brinshore Development, a Northbrook, Illinois, firm, told the J&C at the time, about the prospects of converting the 1920s era bricks and limestone into a 43-unit, affordable housing apartment building.
Sometime in the next eight months – between the time of the $4.3 million announcement to when yellow historic property demolition permit placards went up this week in the old nursing school windows – Brinshore didn’t get the tax credits needed to make the project fly.
Terry Wilson, president and CEO of Franciscan Health Western Indiana, said this week that Brinshore officials, backed by Lafayette’s economic development department, wanted to make another run at the tax credit process. That, Wilson said, would mean another year or more waiting, while Franciscan sat on an empty building that costs roughly $25,000 a month in routine expenses, even in a virtually mothballed condition.
Hospital estimates put the annual costs for the two original hospital wings and the former School of Nursing building at $300,000 a year, apiece – or $900,000 total.
“They said, ‘Let’s try, again,’” Wilson said. “Well, OK, let’s try, again, but we own and operate it for that period of time with the real potential that they’d take another year and then be told again they didn’t get financing.