Real Estate Negotiations Between IHA, City of Saline Break Down

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Negotiations toward a real estate deal between the City of Saline and IHA have broken down, according to Saline City Councillor Jack Ceo.

The city and health care provider had been in negotiations to sell at least part of the city-owned 6.5-acre on East Michigan Avenue for the purposes of health services.

In somewhat of an unusual move, Ceo read a prepared statement during the portion of the council meeting reserved for reports from committees, committees and task forces. Ceo said the city also received two other offers for the property and that a city committee that evaluates proposals to purchase city property decided IHA's offer was the "most desirable."

"It was that which was most needed in the City of Saline," Ceo said.

Ceo said the committee asked City Manager Colleen O'Toole and its realtor Tony Caprarese, of Swisher Realty, to begin conversations with IHA.

Apparently, that's when negotiations broke down.

"IHA refused to discuss the offer further. Instead, they indicated that they would be exploring other location options without hearing the city's concerns with their proposal," Ceo said.

He did not explain what was in the proposal nor why it concerned city officials.

Ceo said he was making the statement to "make citizens of Saline and the larger community aware of the kind of response, or should I say lack thereof, that was made by IHA."

Ceo said the city's health care task force, chaired by Councillor Dawn Krause, would continue to search for a vendor interested in providing health care services in Saline.

Ceo said that "until today" the city's health care task force, mayor and council were "excited" when IHA offered for Lot 20 A, the last of the city-owned parcels on East Michigan Avenue. 

The Saline Post has reached out to Ceo and City Manager Colleen O'Toole for more information about why negotiations broke down and the identity of the other parties interested in the land.

In 2018, the city received proposals to buy the land - or at least some of it - from IHA and GBA Development, LLC.

GBA Development offered to buy the entire parcel for the city's asking price, submitting a plan to build a grocery store, retail and restaurants. The city and GBA entered a purchase agreement that was extended several times as the developer changed plans. In 2021, the city elected to not extend the purchase agreement and the city began talking to IHA about the property.

In 2018 IHA proposed a single-story, 11,650 square-foot health center that would have housed primary care physicians, urgent care, labs, X-rays and other services.

But IHA only wanted the front portion of the property with Michigan Avenue frontage leaving the remainder of the parcel unsellable.

St. Joseph Mercy Health Systems closed Saline Hospital a decade ago after years of service reductions at the hospital. IHA later opened an urgent care clinic in Pittsfield Township but closed it in 2020 with virtually no community notice.

Saline City Council formed a health care task force to study ways to improve health care services in the city.

"The mayor and council all feel that a vibrant community is made all the more whole when there is reliable medical care at hand," Ceo said. "Such is not now the case for us."

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