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Developer determined to find use of old hospital

  • The Associated Press
  • Published Sunday, July 13, 2014, at 12:13 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, July 15, 2014, at 12:45 a.m.

— A developer who has owned the vacant Halstead Hospital and Hertzler Clinic for eight years is still promising that to reopen it, if he can get some help from the government.

The 265,000-square-foot complex has been nearly empty in the center of the small south-central Kansas town of Halstead since it closed in 2002. Azzy Reckess, president of PAZ Health Care Management in Poughkeepsie, New York, has been trying to find tenants since he bought the building in 2006. Currently, only a call center for the Department of Children and Families uses the building, employing about 70 people.

Part of help he's seeking includes settling $440,000 in back taxes he owes and reducing the property valuation going forward.

Reckess, president of PAZ Health Care Management in Poughkeepsie, New York, says changes in state and federal health care system regulations hurt his efforts to find more tenants but he remains optimistic, The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/1mNJj8u ).

"I am still determined to make it happen," he said.

Halstead residents are skeptical of Reckess' claims.

"I've talked to Azzy so many times, I can tell you exactly what he's going to say," said Halstead City Administrator J.R. Hatfield. "He'll say he's got all these plans. He's talked to the state and the feds and these people and that guy."

And?

"I see nothing happening," Hatfield said.

Reckess recently brought in medical real estate redeveloper Cindy Ogden to evaluate the buildings and the market. She said interest exists, even though she estimated it would cost more than $20 million to reopen and re-equip the building as an acute care medical facility.

"I think it looks pretty good that I can make something happen there," she said. "My goal is to save the hospital, that's what I do, that's what I have on my profile. If you save hospitals, you save lives, you save communities."

Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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