After first being a hospital, then a county jail, the Irish Hospital is now an apartment complex and it held its grand opening. The idea of turning an age-old building into an apartment complex started as a vision. Kristen Peterson owns Redevelopment Resources which is an economic research and redevelopment firm. She understands the demand for housing in the area. When presented with the opportunity to redevelop the Irish Hospital facility, she didn’t hesitate.
Cities and communities throughout the area are struggling to provide quality housing for people moving into the area. Myrtle Nelson, Executive Director for the North Iowa Council of Governments (NIACOG) explained that there is a resurgence of people moving back to the area.
Beth Bilyeu, Executive Director with the Forest City Chamber of Commerce was an instrumental part of keeping the building from being demolished. She formed an unexpected partnership with Peterson which then brought together a group of individuals dedicated toward answering a call to revitalize the facility.
The building was slated for demolition after law enforcement moved out in 2018. At one point, ghost hunters asked to stay the night thinking that it might be haunted. While no ghosts were found, keeping the abandoned facility air controlled was becoming problematic and expensive. The Winnebago County Board of Supervisors did not want to tear it down. That’s when Bilyeu approached them about an idea and the project took off. Supervisor Terry Durby wanted to see the building become something more than a memory.
The apartments will now be available to rent at rates between $900 to $1,150 per month.