By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
TRENTON – Call it a New Year’s resolution – or a swan song – but City Administrator Jim Wagner said the early months of 2016 will include the approval of a long-awaited plan for the former Riverside Osteopathic Hospital.
A resolution to the longstanding problem, Wagner said, is tops on his checklist of things to do before stepping away from the position. Wagner expects to soon determine a retirement date from the position he’s held since 2011.
Representatives of property owner Dr. Iqbal Nasir met with city officials last week with hopes of presenting city council on Jan. 4 with a mutually-agreeable strategy under Planned Urban Development guidelines, a rezoning that developers sought for the property.
Wagner said that – unlike numerous tentative agreements that had been reached for the West Jefferson complex – the latest conversations appear to have clarified issues which often have blocked progress.
“This is talking about actually building and moving forward,” Wagner said. “The plan is to get something on the agenda to approve the P.U.D.”
The city council in October rezoned the properties under the development title Riverside Wellness Center, the most recent effort by Nasir to transform the hospital grounds and buildings into medical offices and a care facility. Nasir purchased the property and structures in 2009 from Henry Ford Health Systems.
After numerous false starts, Wagner said he’s determined to see progress at both Riverside and the Detroit Steel Co. plans for the former McLouth Steel site. In spite of the progress and stability gained in recent years the two unresolved issues remained a frustrating priority.
“I’m disappointing in the lack of progress with DSC and Riverside,” said Wagner, who expects by February to confirm a retirement date. “But I think we’ll know something in the next 90 days, and we’ll have some action within six months. We’re at the top of the hill now, and we’ll either roll back or go forward.”
(James Mitchell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)