Public auction of hospital property to be held today

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   The city of Elizabethton could take the first step toward restoration of the Carter County Memorial Hospital property immediately if the city proves to be the successful bidder at a public auction of the property today.
   The city council voted last week to grant the city authority to bid $71,232 -- the combined total of city and county real property taxes owed -- at today's public auction. Two previous auctions held earlier this year failed to draw any bidders.
   The city's attorney, Roger Day, told council members the city had attempted to get the property's owner to bring it up to standard.
   If the tract is purchased, the property's owner -- listed on the deed as Wayne Graybeal -- would have one year from the date of auction sale to pay the delinquent taxes, legal costs, plus 10 percent of the $71,232 tax total to reclaim the property, Day said.
   If successful, the city could step toward renovating the property that has been a topic of debate since the late 1990s. Demolition of the asbestos-laden hospital building takes top priority among city officials who have sought to restore and redevelop the property.
   One estimate by a private company placed asbestos removal and demolition of the structure at approximately $500,000.
   The hospital property was initially bid at two public auctions, one held in August and another in October, but no one submitted a bid on the property, Day said.
   He also informed the council that Carter County commissioners had voted to waive the property taxes owed the county if the city agreed to purchase the hospital property. The county did not waive court costs of $275 and $1,765 in county attorney's fees, which would fall to the city if they were successful bidders.
   According to the property's deed of ownership, Teddy Ervin acquired the hospital from the city of Elizabethton and Carter County in April 1993. Ervin subsequently sold the property to Graybeal in February 1997. The XL Corporation acquired the property in December 1997.
   The hospital building was constructed in the late 1950s and underwent a $1.4 million expansion in 1969. The county hospital administration entered into a management agreement with the Hospital Corporation of America in 1979. The hospital was later abandoned for Sycamore Shoals Hospital which was constructed in 1983.