After nearly two years of indecision, the York Council is being recommended next week to put Oliver House (the former elderly person’s home at the end of Priory Street) on the open market.
The building has been empty since the home was closed in April 2012.
The prime site is expected to bring in substantial offers from residential developers. The Council has budgeted to receive £450,000 from the sale of the site.
In reality the sale is likely to produce a much higher figure.
Any new homes provided there would reduce the pressure to build on greenfield land and would provide the Council with a useful capital receipt. It would help to offset the huge increase in debts accumulated by the present Labour administration.
The Council had been dithering over proposals to lease Oliver House to voluntary groups which are currently located in Holgate Villas. The Council spent £15,000 on a feasibility study for the conversion of the building. It revealed that the costs of converting the building could be as much as £1 million.
Additionally it has been costing the Council £30,000 a year to keep the building empty.
Local residents – led by Liberal Democrats – had expressed increasing concerns about the buildings future
Many pointed out that the voluntary groups involved did not need a prime site location and that it would make more sense for the Council to ensure that they had alternative rented accommodation available.
There is still a lot of unoccupied office space in the City.
It was hoped that suitable buildings might be identified in sub-urban locations which were in need of regeneration. Acomb, for example, has never recovered from the Councils decision to close its office in the Front Street area.
However, it now seems that the Council is restricting its office search to the city centre. Two possible locations are being evaluated
The office building is likely to include other uses and will be dubbed a “Health and Social Care Hub”. The Council is looking to replace it in 2 or 3 years time with a purpose designed facility. The NHS will make a financial contribution to this new “one stop shop” style centre.
The costs of the commercial office lease are expected to be covered by the rents paid by the tenants.