At Premier Health’s first public meeting since the closure of Good Samaritan Hospital, officials released three preliminary options for the site’s future.
Organized by Premier Health, planning NEXT and CityWide Development, Tuesday night’s “options workshop” gave the public a chance to weigh in on three initial concepts for the site.
“I’m just hoping that the community pulls together, come up with some ideas for economic growth,” said Albert Phillips, who lives near the former hospital and attended the meeting.
According to Premier Health officials, all of the buildings will be torn down on the 13-acre site by early 2020, except the parking garage.
Planning NEXT, which was hired to help create a vision for the site, collected input from about 400 people to come up with three potential options for the site, according to organizers of the meeting.
All of the options are mixed-use spaces: one focuses on housing, another emphasizes employment and business, and the third centers around civic and community activities.
“I think there’s some exciting opportunities for the site and for the surrounding community, so we want to make sure we allow enough time and patience for the community to digest and weigh in through this whole process,” said Brian Heitkamp, president of CityWide Development.
Some people we spoke with said they want to see the site remain focused on providing healthcare.
“There’s enough other areas that are barren,” said Judy Bell, who attended the meeting. “And the Salem Mall area – they could put all this indoor hockey and soccer and all this garbage that they want to do.”
Others like Albert Phillips said while they’re also sad to see the hospital closed, they’re open to the ideas presented.
“That’s kind of what I think was happening here, trying to put a band-aid on the problem, but it’s hope,” Phillips said. “Hope for our future.”
Another workshop is planned for the fall with more refined recommendations for the site, Heitkamp said.
According to a Premier Health spokesperson, it’s not yet clear if Premier will retain ownership of the property or eventually sell it.