Development to go up at site of city's first hospital
By Dawn Krebs
FORT PIERCE -- The Fort Pierce City Commission unanimously approved a site plan for Sunrise Heights Senior Housing Center during their Dec. 12 meeting.
This project will consist of two mid-rise apartment-style buildings that will each house 75 units along with 22 duplexes. When completed, the housing development will contain 193 units. It will be one of the largest senior housing centers in the city's history.
But to move this project forward, the city will be tearing down another piece of local history the city's first hospital, Fort Pierce Memorial, located on 7th Street.
"I think most of us were born in that hospital," Commissioner Reggie Sessions said.
The hospital, built in 1939, became low-income housing for the community in the 1970s, when the Fort Pierce Housing Authority began managing the property.
A presentation held at the Aug. 20 city commission meeting by Leslie Olson, the city's historic preservation officer, explored the possibility of saving a portion of the hospital building and designating it as a historic property.
"The historic presentation board directed me to take a look at Fort Pierce Memorial Hospital to see if it qualified to be recommended for historic designation," Ms. Olsen said. "They recommended the main entry of the original building be designated."
After discussion, the city commission determined it was too expensive to change plans and instead, decided to create a memorial park that will honor the hospital on the property.
"When you look at what (the builders) are proposing and how beautiful it will enhance the whole city, my memories can't outweigh the potential benefit this project will have," Commissioner Sessions said.
The first phase of the project, estimated to begin in early 2014, will consist of building one apartment building and nine of the duplex units. The first phase will be built next to the hospital and after completion, the tenants currently residing there will move into the new building.
The second phase will then be demolishing the hospital building and constructing the second apartment building and the rest of the duplexes.
The $35 million project is expected to take about five years to complete and will create approximately 500 jobs.