SAN BENITO — The city is counting on a new owner to turn the former Dolly Vinsant Memorial Hospital into a health care facility that will provide good jobs, officials said Thursday.
An investment group named 4U Realty has not disclosed its plans for the old hospital, which closed in 2007, City Commissioner Joe D. Gonzalez said.
The new owners have hired a security guard and are cleaning the building that was the target of vandals, Salomon Torres, executive director of the San Benito Economic Development Corp., said.
Lionel Betancourt, who formed the group Save Dolly to try to attract investors to the property, was pleased with the recent activity.
“It’s wonderful knowing someone is starting to care for it,” Betancourt said. “A security guard was essential to protect the building. It leads to the belief that they’re trying to do something to restore the facility.”
The Cameron Appraisal District’s chief appraiser Frutoso Gomez said 4U Realty bought the property Dec. 11 from Southern Counties Investment Group.
Southern Counties Investment Group, a group of Brownsville investors, had bid $10,000 for the property at a Cameron County auction in November, said John Guevara, a tax attorney with the firm Linebarger, Goggan, Blair & Sampson in Brownsville.
Gomez said Southern Counties bought the property Dec. 6. This was two days after San Benito city commissioners voted to approve the sale.
Southern Counties paid $286,530 in delinquent taxes owed to the city of San Benito, the San Benito school district and Cameron County.
Eduardo Lopez, a Southern Counties investor, had said the group included Mexican doctors who planned to turn the property into a healthcare facility.
“The hopes are that the property will be quickly redeveloped for a use similar to what it was before — healthcare,” the EDC’s Torres said. “This community would benefit from access to health care professionals. The property has a very special place in the hearts of the community of San Benito. It pains them to see it abandoned.”
Tax attorneys put the property on the auction block after a private bidding process broke down in October when Cameron County commissioners deadlocked with a 2-2 vote on whether to approve a $286,000 offer that San Benito city commissioners and school board members had supported.