The Trinity Hospital building is the main focus of a committee tasked with looking into potential new uses for vacated buildings once a new medical complex opens next year in southwest Minot.
Brekka Kramer, president of Minot Area Chamber EDC, said a MACEDC committee that came together in June has its sights on the hospital building because that piece of infrastructure could significantly impact the downtown.
“Our biggest focus from an economic development standpoint is the hospital because that’s a large property and it’s a unique property,” she said. “We’re trying to, right now, leverage about every partnership we have across the state, even thinking big.”
She said the committee has looked at what other communities have done in similar situations. The committee is investigating grant opportunities and possible study options. For instance, seeing Medora’s success in working with North Dakota State University’s architectural students to create a development plan, there’s some interest in whether that type of partnership with a university might work with the hospital.
An architectural look at the facility to determine its potential, or whether it needs to be removed for a different type of development, could be beneficial, Kramer said.
As owner of the building, Trinity will be central to any decisions.
Trinity has identified five buildings at this time that it will be vacating. The largest is the six-story hospital, with 278,695 square feet. The original hospital was built in 1922 and additions were constructed over the years. Other buildings are:
— Health Center East, 20 Burdick Expressway W., 48,330 square feet on six stories, built in 1927.
—Thompson Apartments, 29 units, 13 3rd Ave. 16,000 square feet on four stories.
— Health Center-Third Street, 420 3rd St. SE, 14,075 square feet on 1.5 stories, built in 1980.
— Health Center-Fifth Avenue, 305 5th Ave. SE, 37,600 square feet on four and a partial floors, built in 1944.
All are hospital-owned but the Fifth Avenue building, which is Physician Suites-owned.
“We are working with local officials and interested parties to repurpose these properties in a way that best serves the community,” Trinity Vice President Randy Schwan said.
Kramer said it is important that community partners work collectively with Trinity.
“Everyone has a stake in it because it’s our community and our region,” she said.
Trinity property discussions date back to the Downtown Opportunities Committee that was part of the International Economic Development Council study in 2018. Looking at downtown in general, the committee considered the potential for a Minot State University campus extension, a culinary arts school, community food pantry and office space for key community initiatives or projects. There was discussion of a career and technical education center, which is in the process of coming to fruition in a downtown building purchased from Trinity.
More recently, Kramer said, there have been economic development conversations on a monthly basis that have included MACEDC, the City of Minot, Trinity, Minot Park District, Visit Minot, Downtown Business & Professional Association, Minot Public Schools, Minot State University and others .
The separate MACDC committee that began meeting this summer to examine the future of the Trinity buildings involves both Trinity Health and the Trinity Health Foundation.
The future of Trinity Health’s downtown properties is of interest to the Minot City Council, which highlighted the issue Sept. 6 during discussion on the city’s progress on the International Economic Development Council study recommendations.
Council member Carrie Evans said a concrete plan may not be possible yet but she would like to see a vision developed for the Trinity buildings.
“There are people who see it as an opportunity,” council member Stephan Podrygula added. “I think the challenge is to take advantage of it and find out where the opportunity lies.”
Kramer said finding a solution for the hospital building is likely to be a long-term project. The community doesn’t want the building to become a source of blight, though, she said. If the hospital isn’t an asset the community has a solution for, then it likely will be removed because the location is prime property for development, she said.
If demolition becomes the recommendation, though, the decision whether to do so would be Trinity’s as owner, she said.