The Sitka Assembly last week (4-29-21) continued discussing the possible sale of the former Sitka Community Hospital property. But a key piece of information was still missing– just how much the property is worth.
The assembly scheduled the meeting to have an open discussion about the “request for proposals” the city will soon issue to seek bidders on the property.
The hospital business was sold to SEARHC in 2018, with a deal to lease the property to house long-term care. SEARHC expressed interest in purchasing the building last fall. This spring, the assembly directed city administrator John Leach to draft an RFP, and last month it held two town halls to hear public input on the possible property sale.
Last week’s conversation focused mostly on setting the scoring criteria within the document. Assembly members discussed everything from how much preference to give a lease offer over a sale offer, to rights of first refusal if the property is sold again, and whether to set a minimum bid. But without a property value assessment, Member Thor Christianson said, they couldn’t make much progress on the RFP.
“I think we’ve gone as far as we can without the appraisal. Honestly, depending on what the appraisal is, I could say ‘I don’t want to sell it. Let’s call up SEARHC and see if they want to just extend their lease,” he said. “Or, maybe, ‘hey, let’s sell it as fast as we can,’ depending on what that is. I just feel like we’re working without enough information.”
City Administrator John Leach said the appraisal would be finished and available to assembly members within days. But once that figure is available, that doesn’t mean the public will be privy to it. The hospital property value will likely only be discussed behind closed doors in an executive session .
The assembly will review the RFP at its regular meeting on May 11.