New Obici plan a smart restart

Published 7:36 pm Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When something isn’t working, it’s often a good idea to start over.

When something isn’t selling, it’s often a good idea to pull it off the market, re-evaluate your plan and then move ahead.

Both things finally happened to the North Main Street site of the former Louise Obici Memorial Hospital on Tuesday during a meeting of the Suffolk Planning Commission.

Email newsletter signup

Ever since the hospital was purchased and moved to its current home on Godwin Boulevard, the North Main Street property has sat vacant, sometimes sought after, but rarely given the love and attention it needed.

City and economic leaders have wooed and been wooed by potential property owners, each with a grand idea for the premier site. But each time, the city was jilted, left holding the ticket for dinner and a large piece of property.

In an effort to make the abandoned property much more attractive to a wide range of businesses and developers, the city is “wiping the slate clean” by rezoning the property.

In this sluggish economy, gone are the days of large developers looking to bring a movie theater, residential units, bowling alleys and retail stores.

Instead, the city must look at attracting each of those potential tenants individually and develop that site into what many believe could be a huge retail and residential center for Suffolk.

Rezoning the property doesn’t prevent any one developer coming, but doing so gives Suffolk more options and allows economic development officials to talk to a wider audience.

North Main Street, from where it starts downtown to where it crosses Route 58, is quickly becoming one of the city’s busiest retail corridors. It has the traffic to prove it.

But a well-planned and well-developed business and residential center at the former hospital site would help bring more business and more jobs to the central part of Suffolk.

The Planning Commission made a wise decision Tuesday afternoon to start over at the old Obici site, re-evaluating and moving forward with a better plan.