The building that once housed Riverside Hospital is about to be revitalized in Downtown Trenton.
NABA Management LLC is taking over the building at 2171 West Jefferson, between King and Harrison, that has been vacant since 2002. It will be transformed into Riverside Commons, which will include a skilled nursing center featuring 80 beds, an acute rehabilitation facility that will focus on the needs of seniors and a health services teaching school.
Iqbal A. Nasir MD, chief of staff at and an owner of NABA Managment, said the $13 million transformation will begin as soon as possible with some demolition work. The center could be operational in a year he added.
Nasir, who also owns Aberdeen Skilled Nursing next to Southshore, said he was “excited” about the project, noting that there was a need for such a facility in the Downriver area, which has an extensive senior population.
Trenton officials are delighted that a blight in the Downtown area will be replaced with a needed facility that will provide at least 120 jobs.
“It’s everything we wanted it to be,” said Trenton Mayor Gerald Brown. “It will cause people density in our Downtown area. It’s better this way than the development of housing there. More people will use it. Plus, there’s a need for senior living.”
Brown said city officials have been seeking a quality use for the eight-acre site on Jefferson between King and Harrison since it became a vacant hospital nine years ago. He said Riverside Hospital once employed 400 people.
He said the hospital closed after a planned partnership between Oakwood Healthcare and Henry Ford Health System involving major investment “fell through.”
“It was a business decision to close it,” Brown said. “It created a huge void Downtown. We had just started our Downtown renaissance and it was looking much nicer. We took two steps forward and then three steps backward."
Brown said the main issue was the transfer of the certificates for each of the hospital beds by the Henry Ford system to another facility.
“Henry Ford was diligently trying to get the hospital beds transferred,” Brown said. “It took that long. Meanwhile, we were fielding citizen's complaints that it was looking bad – and it was.”
Brown said he appealed to Henry Ford management, which finally sold the facility to a salvage company. About six months later, the salvage company sold the property to a demolition company, he said.
“We’ve been on this for many years,” Brown said. “It’s been our focus. The longer it sits, the worse it looks.”
Eventually, Nasir came forward with his plans to build a facility with assisted living and related businesses. Brown said the property management company has been working with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation as well as the city Brownfield Development Authority and Downtown Development Authority.
“I thank the mayor for helping me put this together,” Nasir said.
Trenton residents told Trenton Patch that they were in favor of the plan.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Karen Van Battenburg, who lives on Truax Street. “This place has been empty for years. We need something new.”
“You can’t beat it,” said Dale Kelsey, who has lived 10 years on Riverside Drive. “We need anything we can get. We need Downtown development. Once the hospital closed, it hurt the smaller businesses. It will definitely help this area.”
Kelsey’s wife Denise agreed, saying people who visit the residents of the new facility will eat at local restaurants and shop at local stores.
“It will increase foot traffic,” she said. “This is a great area to walk around. We’ve got the river and all the parks. They’re going to be hungry or will want to pick up a gift for their loved ones.”
Taylor Alpert, a sophomore, who lives across the street from the Riverside property said she looks forward to the day that the site is improved. She also recommended that the new owners improve the waterfront park space near the massive parking lot so older residents of the new facility can go for walks.
“I like the idea,” Alpert said.