Oconto approves deal to possibly renovate historic hospital


OCONTO – A man from Little Suamico has been given a year from the city of Oconto to determine if he can come up with a plan to turn the old hospital into housing.

Eric Schanau is the latest in a series of developers trying to unlock the value of the property, which sits along 300 feet of the Oconto River.

A contract between the city and Schanau’s company, 1st Property Management Solution LLC, was approved by city council on July 13.

“Basically we have a year to bring in contractors – architects, engineers – to figure out what we can do with the property,” Schanau said. “What we have in mind are the condominium apartments.

The goal, he explained, is to retain the hull of the original structure, while two additions may need to be downsized or razed entirely.

Schanau will also seek possible grants and development funding.

“We will explore all of these avenues to see if we come up with a development plan (…) and if it makes sense, financially and (for) many other reasons as well,” he said.

Under the agreement, the company must provide the city with a review of the status of the project and a timeline for moving forward, if so.

Schanau also has a one-year option to purchase the building for $ 1.

Schanau was among a group of investors who in 2005 considered buying the building, but backed down before a developer took over the property.

“I never gave up on the plans that were shared with me,” he said.

The most recent private owner of the property was Oconto River Condominium, which shared a Milwaukee address with the offices of NAI MLG Commercial, a commercial real estate company.

In May 2017, NEWCAP Inc. in Oconto expressed interest in repossessing the property and renovating it for its head office.

The following month, Oconto County took title to the property for back taxes and then ceded it to the city, city administrator Sara Perrizo said.

NEWCAP subsequently abandoned the project due to the cost of the renovation.

“We weren’t able to raise enough funding sources to make this work, and at $ 9 million that was way too high a mortgage for us,” CEO Cheryl Detrick said.

Detrick previously said the main part of the old hospital first served as the original county courthouse for about 30 years, before the current courthouse opened in the late 1800s.

As a public works project in the 1930s, additions were built on both sides. In the 1960s there were additions to the rear and north sides. These would be razed if the project progressed, she said.

The old hospital closed in 2002.

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Contact Kent Tempus at (920) 431-8226 or [email protected]

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