Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect the former AMC hospital sites covers 25 acres.
An Atlanta city councilmember calling for the city to acquire the former Atlanta Medical Center site for use as an equity center expressed frustration with the lack of progress towards finding a use for the now empty hospital in Old Fourth Ward.
Councilmember Keisha Sean Waites advanced a plan calling for the city to turn the 25-acre site owned by Wellstar Health System into a “diversion and crisis center” that provides medical services, along with other services such as mental health, drug and alcohol treatment and short-term emergency housing.
But on Tuesday, the city’s Community Development and Human Services Committee voted unanimously to hold Waites’s resolution. Waites called for further discussion citing safety concerns around the loss of what had been one of just two Level 1 trauma centers in the city — a hospital that provides around-the-clock care for the most serious injuries.
“It’s my feeling that given the loss of a Level 1 trauma center in the metro area, specifically the city of Atlanta, it’s a homeland security issue, an issue of vulnerability,” Waites told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
District 5 Councilmember Liliana Bakhtiari, whose district along with District 2 Councilmember Amir Farokhi is home to the property, was not present at the committee meeting, which ultimately led to the resolution being held.
The idea of an equity center for the city was first introduced by Waites last August, before Wellstar shocked the city by announcing the pending closure of the medical center. At the time, she called for the Atlanta Detention Center to be transformed into the John Lewis Center for Equity, however that proposal was also tabled.
Now, Waites has turned her attention to the massive and empty site of the city’s other former safety-net hospital, Atlanta Medical Center, which was closed on Nov. 1 and has sat empty since. The location is considered highly desirable for development, located in the city’s Old Fourth Ward.
Fulton County’s website lists the total assessed value for the former AMC properties at about $118.86 million.
Mayor Andre Dickens has said if the site is redeveloped or sold, he wants to see health care services kept in place to serve the surrounding community. He put a redevelopment ban on the site for six months – and then extended it another six months, which will expire Oct. 15. Now, if no agreement is made to bring medical services back to the site by that deadline, Dickens has said he will extend the ban a third time.
The ban prevents Wellstar or a buyer from redeveloping the property until the community’s needs are met, he said.
“I think we have a unique opportunity to lead the conversation in the nation in terms of how we deal with unique challenges in terms of quality of life,” Waites said. “I’m clear that this is a complex issue and government can’t do everything, but I believe in collaboration and partnership.”
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