Paxton Community Hospital

The building 651 E. Pells St. — set to be torn down starting May 28 — was the site of the Paxton Community Hospital before it closed in 1987 after 60 years in operation there.

PAXTON — It remains a mystery what will happen to a property on Paxton’s east side after the old hospital building there is torn down starting later this month.

Not even Mayor Bill Ingold knows what the property’s owner — Urbana-based Carle Foundation Hospital — intends to do with the lot at 651 E. Pells St. following demolition of the 88-year-old building, which was the site of the Paxton Community Hospital before it closed in 1987 after 60 years in operation there.

“They have not said anything to me about their plans,” Ingold said Monday, after Carle officials announced Friday that demolition would begin May 28 and continue for three to four weeks.

Carle spokesman Jamie Mullin said Friday there were “no immediate plans” for the property’s redevelopment; however, she did note that “Carle intends to rejuvenate the property to meet future community needs.”

“I don’t know what that means,” Ingold said, speculating that it could be anything from planting some grass and trees on the to-be-vacant lot to constructing another building on it.

Last summer, Ingold said that given the property’s close proximity to Pells Park, he felt the property would make a “wonderful location” for an assisted-living facility or group home for senior citizens. Alternatively, it might make a good spot for a new home.

But Ingold said any use of the property would be an improvement.

“Even a nice blank lot with some trees growing on it is better than an ugly, dilapidated building,” Ingold said last summer.

Harry Brockus, chief executive officer of Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center, said last summer that no matter what happens, Carle intends to do something to memorialize the site for its historical significance to the community.

“We’re open to community input on how to incorporate the historical site as the location of the original Paxton hospital,” Brockus said at the time.

Hoopeston Community Memorial Hospital  bought the two-story, brick building in April 2011 and initially planned to renovate it for an estimated cost of $6 to $8 million, with the goal of opening a community health clinic there by 2013 that would create 43 jobs and provide a range of outpatient services.

However, those plans stalled within the next year, after Carle Foundation Hospital acquired all the primary-care facilities of Hoopeston Regional Health Center, including its 24-bed hospital in Hoopeston, which was renamed Carle Hoopeston Regional Health Center.

“With the Paxton hospital building having been abandoned for years, it was severely damaged by rodent infestation and water, deeming it unsuitable for future use,” Brockus said.

Prior to the Hoopeston hospital buying the old Paxton hospital building for $50,000, the building had been owned by the Association of Independent Baptist Churches of Illinois. The property had a listed sale price of $179,000 just a year before it was sold.

“It’s a beautiful building,” Ingold said. “It’s just unfortunate something couldn’t be done with the building. It’s just too far gone to do anything with.”