New health care center boasts hefty price tag - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

New health care center boasts hefty price tag

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June 1, 2004

Albany - Building a new health care facility in South Albany will cost more than city leaders expected. Now even though $300,000 has already been spent on design, some commissioners want to scrap the project and use the money to build houses.

Tuesday, city commissioners heard bids on the new Phoebe Health Care facility set to be built on land on south Newton Road. The lowest bid was about $2,400,000 which is more than half a million dollars more than expected.

More than a year ago, commissioners agreed to spend $1,600,000 in flood recovery money to build the facility. Now some commissioners, and the Mayor, are rethinking that decision.

"I think out of urgency to make sure the money wasn't sent back to the federal government, they agreed on the health center," said Dr. Willie Adams, Albany Mayor. The federal government can and will take back the flood money if it's not used by the end of this year.

A fallen and faded sign is a reminder of the original plan for the land - a shopping center. However, no developers wanted to locate here so city commissioners decide to lease the land to Phoebe for just a dollar a year for the health care center. That was a controversial use of what some commissioners call "poor people's money."

"The money came from HUD, and it was specifically designated for houses," said Mayor Adams. Adams and some other commissioners say the need for affordable housing in south Albany outweighs the need for the health care center. Adams asked the city attorney if there was any way out of the contract with Phoebe, so the money could be used for housing. "I think the commission wants to review that contract to see what obligations we have under it."

Phoebe officials says they hadn't heard that the bids were more than expected and continue to support the proposed health care center. They plan to talk with city commissioners about possibly cutting cost to get the project back to the predicted $2,00,000 price tag.

City commissioners tabled a vote on the contractors bids Tuesday, until they could meet with Phoebe about the project cost.

Posted at 5:00PM by kathryn.murchison@walb.com