NAMPA -- The historic Mercy Hospital will be saved after a major decision by the Nampa City Council Monday night.

After much public comment, councilors voted to approve an urban renewal district that will renovate the building into senior low-income housing.

The hospital, which takes up an entire block on Nampa's 8th Street, has sat vacant for years.

As public comment got underway, many Nampa residents expressed a negative view about taxing for the urban renewal district. However, some said the renovation would create vital-low income housing in the city as well as revitalizing the block.

The plan now is to spend $350,000 in taxes that will be fronted by a private developer and paid back through the city over 10 years.

This was not the first discussion on the issue, as the city council decided to revisit the plan when a meeting in March left some members of the community concerned about paying more taxes. Many residents said they felt the hospital should be torn down.

However, those with Community Development Inc. say a public-private partnership will save money in the long run due to federal tax cuts that are available to the city now.

The expected cost to tear down the building is around $500,000,

Furthermore, city councilors say the old hospital is an eyesore in its current state, and local law enforcement responds frequently to the abandoned building for crime and vandalism.

Now that the plan is approved, Nampa Mayor Tom Dale said work to build 50 housing units will start immediately.

The city's new urban renewal district is scheduled to expire after the building is finished.

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