By Bruno Matarazzo Jr.
AMESBURY — Anna Jaques Hospital sold Amesbury Health Center last week for $4 million to a local real estate company that is looking to fill in vacant office space and make improvements to the property.
"We're a family-run business, not a big corporation," Robert Mondello of MAR Properties said. "(The property) is going to be improved."
MAR Properties bought the former town-owned hospital from Anna Jaques on Sept. 15 for half of the property's assessed value. Anna Jaques announced the sale yesterday.
The building, on Morrill Place off Main Street, is far from what it used to be decades ago. Amesbury Hospital was part of the bygone era when most cities and towns owned and operated their own hospital.
Anna Jaques bought the fledgling hospital from the town in June 1993 for $2.25 million.
Now, the hospital occupies half of the property's 55,000 square feet of office space, and that will continue with the new owner.
Anna Jaques has a long-term lease with the new owner to operate its child psychiatric unit, laboratory draw station, occupational health services and a radiology department from the property. The hospital has business office space in the building, as well. The agreement calls for Anna Jaques to lease the space in Amesbury Health Center for 30 years.
"That doesn't mean it stops after 30 years," Deborah Chiaravalloti, Anna Jaques vice president of public relations and marketing, said.
Mayor Thatcher Kezer said he's pleased with the news because Anna Jaques will still have a presence in Amesbury and the sale of the building will add to the town's tax base.
The building's property taxes to the town could be in the area of $164,000.
"We're very pleased," Kezer said. "(Anna Jaques Hospital president and chief executive officer) Delia (O'Connor) wanted to emphasis that Anna Jaques has a commitment to Amesbury, and that's what we want."
Money from the sale will go into a board-designated fund to be used by Anna Jaques Hospital's board of trustees.
"The funds could be used, potentially, for major investments in expanded programs or facility improvements, depending upon the needs of the hospital's patients. The cash from the sale will also be used to continue to strengthen the financial health of the institution," O'Connor said in a release.
Chiaravalloti said the money will not be used for the hospital's expansion project.
Mondello, a Hamilton resident, said he plans to keep the building as it is, except for making improvements Anna Jaques long deferred, including repaving the parking lot and fixing the building's signs.
He called the property's tenants "top-notch" and said that he wants to make the building an asset for Amesbury.