Wishard salvage bidding to begin

February 24, 2015

The north side of the IUPUI campus is poised for the next phase of its existence. The first steps toward demolition of several of the buildings that made up the old William N. Wishard Memorial Hospital have begun with an auction process involving the complex.

The auction, which actually includes six separate packages for potential bidders to consider, runs through Thursday, Feb. 26. Winning bidders will have until late March to remove the items they agree to purchase. Once assets such as building mechanical components and cabinetry have been salvaged, IU can begin demolition of some buildings and the repurposing of others, according to Richard Thompson of the University Architect’s Office.

The auction process could become a template for IU, depending on how this project unfolds. Bidders from other parts of the state, the Midwest and other regions of the U.S. could participate.

Wishard Medical Center

Some buildings in the former Wishard Medical Center complex (foreground) will be reused, while others will be demolished. | IU COMMUNICATIONS PHOTO

The new Eskenazi Health complex was built on the west end of the IUPUI campus in exchange for the land and assets of the old Wishard Medical Center campus. That complex included 14 buildings and a parking garage, which required IU’s Capital Planning and Facilities Office and the University Architect’s Office to develop plans for the newly available square footage, the maintenance, repurposing or removal of buildings, green space usage and other considerations.

The plans start with the auction process, and eventually will include planned building demolitions throughout 2015. Many items from the Wishard Medical Center already have been removed for other uses, but handling other older assets presented IU with some challenges.

“We wanted our process to fulfill the needs of Indiana University, but also to respect the long and illustrious history of Wishard Hospital and all it has meant to the city of Indianapolis, and to the people whose lives have been enriched by the care they received in that facility,” Thompson said.

The transition from a working hospital to a salvage process started in mid-2010 and required an assessment of each Wishard building, to see what could continue to be used and what could be salvaged. The IU team determined that the salvage auction would include multiple buildings and any remaining internal assets, but would not include demolition bids.

“The option we chose to implement was to remove approximately half of the old building infrastructure,” Thompson noted, adding that maintenance is “cost-prohibitive due to the age of the facility, outdated infrastructure, the cost of renovation vs. new construction, and the constraints that existing buildings required in terms of redesign and useful university space.”

The plan adopted still leaves eight buildings from the Wishard complex available for renovation and reuse, and provides 10.88 acres for future development, Thompson said.

The university has 871 buildings in its inventory, and cost-effectiveness, sustainability and environmental concerns, and safety are issues vital to IU planners.

Thompson said environmental concerns are typical for older facilities, particularly hospitals, but remaining infrastructure attached to the buildings still has value. That is especially true of such items as steel, brick and concrete that can be reused or recycled.

“The auctions have begun,” Thompson said. “The verdict is still out on its success, but we are optimistic.”

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