MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - With all the closures and job cuts at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville, the local redevelopment authority is now taking its first step to bring new life to the campus—three new businesses are finalizing their leases to make CSH their new home.
With more than 200 buildings and 2,000 acres of land, Central State Hospital is a prime real estate location, but state officials don't have any plans for it. Now that three of those buildings have a new lease on life, the future for this state property is looking bright.
Broken windows, overgrown grass, and no trespassing signs—this is Central State Hospital today. It is a much different sight than it was in its heyday. But Darrell Davis sees the Wilkes building as the new home for his STEM school and lab.
"I fell in love physically with the city and the warmth of Milledgeville but then I saw the potential of Central State Hospital and the buildings and the land and the opportunity to have a STEM program here," Davis.
Davis, along with a technology company and church group, are the three new lease holders renting buildings at the hospital. Mike Couch with the CSH Local Redevelopment Authority says these contracts mark a milestone in revitalizing and re purposing the campus.
"It's positive activity and coming from the real estate world, positive activity breeds positive activity, so this is the first step to the future of Central State Hospital," Couch said.
The authority is also working with the City of Milledgeville to bring new life to these buildings.
"It will be a different community but I think it'll be stronger," Milledgeville Mayor Richard Bentley said. "It'll be more dependable as far as being able to continue its use. It will have an economic impact and more importantly create jobs."
With state agencies pulling out of the hospital, State Representative Rusty Kidd says finding new businesses to occupy the buildings is essential.
"Unless we can find something to do with them, they're going to continue to sit idle and just rot away and fall down and that's not a smart way for the state to use its assets," Kidd said.
With these three new occupants, Couch hopes to see the property live up to its full potential.
"Very optimistic, but we still got a lot of work to do," Couch said.
Couch says the leases should be finalized in August and Davis hopes to open his STEM school next summer.
One of the challenges of bringing new businesses to the hospital is getting everything cleared by the state and legislature. Kidd is working on a piece of legislation that will cut out the middle man and make it easier for interested businesses to lease or own buildings.