Senior staff writer
Residents living near the old St. Francis Hospital in Beech Grove have expressed concerns about traffic, parking and snow removal on streets near the property where two multiple-story buildings are to be razed within the next 18 months.
Construction and demolition engineers joined Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley during a public briefing Oct. 26 at Hornet Park Community Center for those who live in the immediate area of the 15-acre property.
The original hospital and a 12-story professional building will be torn down one floor at a time. The buildings, consisting of 900,000 square feet, will not be imploded due to dust and asbestos.
The medical arts building above the parking garage is being upgraded, a 60-by-120-foot connector will be used as a lounge and recreation area for employees, and two buildings that have undergone extensive renovations will continue to house Franciscan Alliance Information Services and the Franciscan Visiting Nurse Service.
An estimated 300 to 400 Franciscan employees will remain on the property.
Engineers explained that traffic on Sherman Avenue and Albany Street likely would not be affected by heavy truck and equipment vehicles. Those vehicles are to access the property from an alley between 16th and 17th streets that will become two-way directly north of Buffalo Street. No parking will be allowed on 17th Street.
Buckley explained that the city did not want construction/demolition traffic on many streets near the hospital. “We are going to be compromised for a long time. I say let them do their work; we can modify as we go. If the alley doesn’t work, we will fix it.”
Beech Grove Middle School is northeast of the property. Students will be able to walk along Buffalo Street to and from the school between pedestrian fencing and barriers.
Exterior demolition may begin in eight months with the entire project taking 18 months.
After the demolition is completed the grounds will be turned into greenspace with the potential that the property may have appeal as a multipurpose development.
Franciscan Alliance is funding the demolition. The city has hired Shrewsberry and Associates to monitor the work done on sewer and water systems.
Representatives of Tonn and Blank Construction of Michigan City, supervisors of the demolition project; Brandenburg Industrial Services, the demolition company; and DLZ engineers spoke with residents at the meeting.
They pointed out that:
• Demolition plans meet Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards; noise and air quality will be monitored.
• Future meetings with residents will be held to discuss timetable of destruction.
• Interior demolition will begin first, last four to five months; exterior demolition will take six months.
• Air quality will be monitored.
• Vibration from demolition should not be a problem for nearby residents.
Questions regarding the project should be directed to the mayor’s office – 317-784-3003.
The hospital opened under the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration in Beech Grove in 1914. The hospital expanded throughout the years but began moving all services to its south campus at Emerson Avenue and Stop 11 Road.