EDA accepts Obici land

Published 9:56 pm Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Economic Development Authority voted Wednesday to accept the former Obici Hospital site on North Main Street and to initiate a rezoning request to remove the mixed-use overlay district on the site.

The Suffolk Economic Development Authority voted Wednesday to accept the former Obici Hospital property from the city and petition for its zoning to be changed.

City Council voted last week to transfer the property at 1900 N. Main St. to the EDA, which will use its resources to market the 25-acre site that has been vacant for 10 years.

The old hospital was razed in 2003 after it moved its operations to Godwin Boulevard, and the city bought the site soon after. A few attempts to sell and develop the property have fallen through, including one by Robinson Development, which bought it in 2006. After failing to get a theater operator to anchor the mixed-use site, which would also have included residential units, commercial and office space, the group sold the site back to the city in 2008.

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The EDA has had success marketing troublesome sites in the past, Economic Development Director Kevin Hughes said during last week’s City Council meeting. He cited the Health and Human Services building on Hall Avenue and the former Health Department site on North Main Street, which now holds several shops including a Panera Bread.

After voting to accept the site, the EDA also voted to petition City Council for a rezoning. The site currently is zoned as general commercial with a mixed-use overlay — a holdover from the failed Robinson deal. But Hughes said the mixed-use overlay should be removed.

“If development is to move forward, a rezoning will have to take place,” Hughes said. He added it would “increase our ability to market the site.”

The authority also talked about the site in closed session but did not take any action.