The Union Recorder

July 19, 2013

CSH redevelopment group celebrates one year

Kyle Collins
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — After one year in existence, Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority (CSHLRA) Executive Director Mike Couch said the board’s already ahead of the game.

When Couch worked on the repurposing of Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana, it took the outfit more than three years to complete the first real estate transaction.

CSH buildings Jones 286, Wilkes and Chapel No. 3 already have leases for execution by the end of the month. Three interested parties, including Pastor Harold B. Simmons’ outreach ministry, technology and business consulting firm Cogentes and an analytical training laboratory (CAPS-ATL) will soon call CSH home.

Couch thanked a vibrant board in Wednesday’s regular meeting.

“I appreciate our partners. I work for a very good board,” Couch said. “We look forward to the future, and we have a lot to look forward to.”

CSHLRA chair Quay Hurt Fuller said the authority accepts and relishes the coming years, as she reflected on the one-year anniversary.

“We have challenges, but we are facing those challenges. We feel very promising in what we are trying to do,” Fuller said. “We are taking everything one small nibble at a time to achieve our ultimate goal to create jobs.”

Several positive points came out of the birthday meeting.

Shepherd Care Hospice, out of Griffin, met with Couch and board member Dr. George Martinez about options at the Howell Building. The health care outfit’s CEO wants to enter into a letter of intent toward a nursing home.

“His vision for that building is a hospice care facility for Baldwin County and Milledgeville,” Couch said Wednesday.

The CSHLRA agreed to enter into negotiations for that property. 

Martinez said while the initial interest was hospice care the company could explore transition nursing care and even rehabilitation. He likes the hospice possibility.

“There are a lot of home health care agencies here. What we don’t have is a true hospice in-patient facility,” Martinez said. “Realistically, we do need one. There are certain situations where families can’t handle hospice care.”

The Howell Building is in much better shape than expected, according to Martinez.

“Relative to the rest of campus, it wouldn’t take much to turn it around. I could see them starting with one wing and moving on from there,” he said.

In addition to a potential tenant, Couch said Craig Dominy from the Georgia Film Commission visited Central State. An accompanying site director called the campus ‘a marvelous opportunity for the film industry.’

“Our intention is to get this campus certified as film ready,” the CSHLRA director said.

Also, the GED program helping soon-to-be jobless hospital employees attain their high school equivalency diplomas is about to graduate 64 out of 68 students from the first cohort. 

Couch said 42 are in the next cohort and Central Georgia Technical College President Dr. Ivan Allen committed to fund a third group if necessary. 

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