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Former hospital being demolished ... carefully

The Dimmick Tower is becoming a shell of its former self.

Crews began dismantling the decrepit building from the inside last week. It will be broken up floor by floor rather than by using explosives. The careful method will rein in the possible spread of noxious asbestos, lead and mold. The demolition project is expected to last through the beginning of next year.

The four-story building is owned by Josephine County. It was built in 1964 and was formerly home to Josephine Memorial Hospital, and later was known as the Dimmick campus of Three Rivers Community Hospital.

Now, the building is considered a health hazard. It's part of a 6.3-acre campus the county owns at the intersection of A and Dimmick streets near downtown Grants Pass.

Earlier this month county commissioners approved a contract for $963,610 with Portland-based Munitor Construction to demolish the Dimmick Tower. County officials have said that 40 percent of that cost will be paid by a grant from the state. The county also received a low-interest loan from the Oregon Business Development Department for up to $1.5 million that is dedicated to the project, which also includes developing a marketing plan to redevelop the entire campus.

In July the Board of Commissioners approved a contract with Northwest-based Maul Foster & Alongi for $37,100 to create the marketing plan. In January and April the county hosted open house events to allow the public to offer ideas about how the property could be used. Suggestions included office buildings, senior housing, a mix of townhouses and commercial and multifamily housing.

The campus also contains buildings that house the Josephine County Public Health Department, Josephine County Planning and Building departments, and the Commission for Children and Families.

Potential uses could include redeveloping the entire 6.3 acres or just the area where Dimmick Tower now sits.

Reach reporter Jim Moore at 541-474-3721 or jmoore@thedailycourier.com