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Franklin to study feasibility of converting old Angel Medical Center into senior housing

Angel Medical Center was formerly located in downtown Franklin. The new facility opened in September 2022.
Lilly Knoepp
Angel Medical Center was formerly located in downtown Franklin. The new facility opened in September 2022.

There is a plan forming for the old Angel Medical Center building in Macon County, after a new hospital opened in Franklin in September.

Plans for the old hospital building in downtown Franklin have been up in the air for almost five years.

Franklin Town Manager Aime Owens says the town council now supports a plan to turn the former medical facility into senior residential living.

“It’s not an easy thing to decide what to do with 16 acres in the middle of town that has historically been just medical,” said Owens.

HCA Healthcare – which owns Mission Hospital System – also owns the Angel Medical Center building.

“They can only give or gift property to certain local governments or non-profit agencies, and they want to do what was best for the community. And so they came and approached the town. We've had conversations about what may be the best use for the property,” explains Owens.

At an October town council meeting, Asheville-based nonprofit Givens Estates signed the contract to be the consultant on a feasibility study for the building. The council voted unanimously to support the agreement, according to draft minutes of the meeting. The hope is that the building can be used for affordable rental housing specifically for seniors, aged 55 or greater, according to the MOU.

This is just the first step in the project.

“Looking at things for the future, if it does become senior housing, there is some space available, maybe for some other community resources to go in there,” said Owens. “And so that'll be something moving forward that everybody will be involved in the community. Owens explained that the local government, key stakeholders, social services and HCA will all be involved in the planning.

The feasibility study is being paid for with a nearly $268,000 grant from Dogwood Health Trust.

“I think this feasibility study will actually highlight what we can potentially do with the building as a community, because right now the building is still owned by HCA, so there hasn't been any agreement related to who's going to take ownership at this point,” said Owens.

Owens explained that if the study concludes that housing is not the best use for the building then it would be the decision of HCA as to whether or not to tear the facility down.

At the town’s November 7th meeting, the council will hire the engineers who will conduct the feasibility study.

“We have to consider the safety and the age of the building to try to get things rolling,” said Owens. “And of course, the attorneys on HCAs team have certain conditions that, you know, as a property owner who's selling, [they] want to keep in place to give them some options maybe for the future.”

Owens says the feasibility study should be finished by the first week of January 2023.

Lilly Knoepp is Senior Regional Reporter for Blue Ridge Public Radio. She has served as BPR’s first fulltime reporter covering Western North Carolina since 2018. She is from Franklin, NC. She returns to WNC after serving as the assistant editor of Women@Forbes and digital producer of the Forbes podcast network. She holds a master’s degree in international journalism from the City University of New York and earned a double major from UNC-Chapel Hill in religious studies and political science.
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