Vacant Indy Hospital Flagged As Health Hazard

City Wants Land For Redevelopment

An Indianapolis hospital building that has sat vacant for more than four years has been deemed a health hazard by police.

Indianapolis police have ordered officers and firefighters not to enter the old Winona Hospital building, near Meridian and 32nd streets, without protective gear, 6News' Jack Rinehart reported.

It comes more than a year after 35 members of the SWAT team spent two days training inside the building, which has tested positive for mold, asbestos and other toxins, said Lt. Jeffery Duhamell. Those officers are now under medical supervision.

"If I remember right, we may have used our gas masks and equipment. I'm not too concerned about it. On the safe, the cautious side, they'll monitor us," Duhamell said.

The building has been plagued by health, environmental and crime issues since its closure after Winona declared bankruptcy in September 2004.

There are several fuel tanks buried beneath the building and metal thieves have stripped the interior. City officials said they may have to negotiate permission from the neighborhood to erect a barbed wire fence around the vacant building to keep looters out.

Even with the problems and an unpaid property tax bill of nearly $1.9 million, the city has said it wants to acquire the land for future redevelopment.

"Certainly, there's going to be costs associated with this site. And whether it's demolition costs, environmental remediation costs, who bears those costs would be part of the conversation that we would have with future developers," said Nick Weber, Indianapolis director of economic development.

Assuming no one else bids on the property, Weber said the city plans to acquire the property next June.