Lawsuit filed over city’s decision concerning old General Hospital

Published 10:59 pm Tuesday, October 10, 2017


NATCHEZ — Two Natchez businesswomen have filed a lawsuit against the City of Natchez over its decision two weeks ago to negotiate with a developer to renovate the former Natchez General Hospital building.

The Towers of Natchez owner Ginger Hyland and local realtor Charlotte Copeland filed action against the city in the Sixth District Circuit Court in Adams County on Oct. 4.

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The legal move came after aldermen elected by majority to hand the building over to nonprofit Magnolia Medical Foundation and refurbish the building into senior-living apartments.

The litigation alleges the city entered into negotiations with Magnolia Medical despite the organization not adhering to the city’s request for proposals (RFP). The complaint also alleges the other bidder, church group New Directions Outreach Ministries, also did not follow the RFP guidelines set forth by the city.

Specifically, the complaint alleges Magnolia Medical failed to submit a business or financial plan and did not send a $5,000 deposit with the proposals, all of which the RFP required in writing.

The lawsuit also claims neither entity submitted its proposal by the Jan. 19, 2017, deadline stated in the RFP.

The complaint requests that the court declare both proposals null and void and “issue a permanent injunction prohibiting the (C)ity of Natchez from selling or alienating” the property until another RFP is issued and bidders adhere to its guidelines.

City Attorney Bob Latham Tuesday requested and received permission from the board of aldermen to defend against Hyland and Copeland’s action.

Discussions of the General Hospital have led to consternation since they began earlier this year. At two April meetings and one held at the end of September regarding the matter, residents expressed concern about Magnolia Medical’s intended purpose for the building.

Among the complaints, some residents have voiced concerns that the project will lower their property values, has a questionable financial outlook and does not benefit the city by having the property off the tax rolls.

Magnolia Medical has proposed redeveloping the building, located at 601 W. Oak St., into a senior-living facility filled with approximately 30 one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments and amenities such as a game room, chapel, theater room, fitness center, computer lounge and more.

An estimate by Waycaster & Associates Architects in March estimated the total project cost at approximately $3.5 million.