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All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg prepares to move and sell its old building

ST. PETERSBURG

For lease or sale: a cavernous, six-story building complex with views of downtown and quick interstate access.

Negotiable options: specialized medical equipment, including radiology machines and sprawling research labs.

The property is the current All Children's Hospital building at 801 Sixth St. S. It won't be available until next spring, as the hospital will need time to move into its new home a few blocks away.

So far, interest in the building, which sits on land owned by the hospital, has been for medical offices. But officials say they will listen to all comers.

"Somebody with imagination and financing" could have their way with the property, hospital president Gary Carnes said.

Hospital officials have been courted by at least four parties, but no plans for the sale of the 42-year-old building have finalized, Carnes said.

"I think it's a positive situation for the community, if we find somebody who could use it in a good manner," he said.

In early January, All Children's will move into a larger and more state-of-the-art building just a few blocks away at 501 Sixth Ave. S. The new hospital will have double the square footage of the old and have better amenities, from children's playrooms to operating rooms. It will also have its own helicopter landing pad and parking garage, two things for which All Children's has had to rely on neighboring Bayfront Medical Center.

The old building presents potential challenges for buyers. Sitting on 3.25 acres, it can't get any bigger, as renovations in 1985, 1990 and 1992 brought it right up against the property line. It can't go higher, since it's in Albert Whitted Airport's primary flight path. The fire alarm sprinkler system is 1992 vintage, and its electrical generators provided only minimal power for the hospital's needs during an outage.

The analog radiology equipment the hospital will consider selling is second fiddle to today's digital machinery.

Still, the building, assessed last year at $6.7 million, has certain advantages. It is above the floodplain, has shatterproof windows and has specialized elevators for hospital supplies. It has a connecting pedestrian tunnel to Bayfront, which is a regional trauma center.

"The building could be essentially renovated for a number of things," said Tim Strouse, All Children's Hospital vice president of facilities and plant operations. "It could be offices, it could be long-term housing, it could be retrofitted for classrooms. For that matter, it could be a nursing home."

Historically, former hospital buildings have been reused as medical offices, senior housing, apartments and condos, community and wellness centers, jails, or even schools, said Jim Allen, a broker with Colliers Arnold commercial real estate services who specializes in medical buildings.

But given the size of the building — and therefore what would be significant redesign costs — the building's greatest value may be the land it's on, Allen said.

"There is a strong probability that eventually the building will be demolished and the site redeveloped for another use," said Allen, who is not involved in the negotiations.

City development officials are watching the situation closely.

"We certainly are hopeful that All Children's can sell it to a tenant that can benefit the city in some way, but we are not trying to direct that at all," said David Goodwin, the city's economic development director. "We certainly would like to see it be productive and generate jobs."

Luis Perez can be reached at lperez@sptimes.com or (727) 892-2271.

Existing hospital

339,000 square feet

216 licensed beds

60 neonatal intensive care unit beds

9 operating rooms

1 MRI unit

2 cardiology/radiology labs

Limited parking

New hospital

795,000 square feet

259 licensed beds

97 neonatal intensive care unit beds

12 operating rooms

2 MRI units

3 cardiology/radiology labs

716-car parking garage

All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg prepares to move and sell its old building 12/05/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 5, 2009 11:16am]

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