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City moving forward with acquisition of historic Griffin Memorial Hospital building in downtown

The Griffin Memorial Hospital building opened in 1940, and was Kodiak’s first modern medical facility. (Photo: Kirsten Dobroth/KMXT)
The Griffin Memorial Hospital building opened in 1940, and was Kodiak’s first modern medical facility. (Photo: Kirsten Dobroth/KMXT)

The city of Kodiak is in the beginning phases of acquiring the Griffin Memorial Hospital building – located just outside the downtown core.

The state of Alaska owns the building, which is the square, white facility that sits next to the Russian Orthodox Church, near Kodiak’s waterfront.

The building is currently vacant, and back in 2020, the state deemed the facility a surplus property. Now, the city of Kodiak has the opportunity to acquire the building through transfer of ownership.

At a work session on Tuesday, Deputy City Manager Josie Bahnke said that’s a different process than buying the building.

“We understand the surplus and transfer of ownership is a zero dollar cost to the city,” said Bahnke. “As for indirect costs as far as staff time, we anticipate, you know, the time working with the state.”

The property is a piece of Kodiak history; back in 1937, the Alaska State Legislature appropriated $25,000 to build the Griffin Memorial Hospital. It opened three years later as the island’s first modern medical facility.

Kodiak had another medical facility before that; it closed in 1867 when Alaska became an American territory.

The 18-bed hospital served the Kodiak community for nearly three decades, before a new facility was built on Rezanof Drive to replace it. The Kodiak Island Hospital became the Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center in 1997.

Ove the years, the Griffin Memorial Hospital building has housed a number of different offices, including, most recently, Kodiak’s Public Health Center.

There’s a few steps involved with transferring ownership, and city staff would need to draft legislation indicating the city’s intent to acquire the property. Any ordinances moving forward with the transfer of ownership would need approval from the City Council.

There currently isn’t a plan for what the building would be used for, but city officials present at Tuesday’s work session indicated their support with starting the process.

“I’m 110% in support of having staff pursue this, some kind of public use facility like this would definitely be in our needs in our future,” said Councilmember Charlie Davidson.

Davidson also noted that the state had paid for the building’s repairs and upkeep over the years.

There’s no definitive timeline for transferring ownership of the Griffin Memorial Hospital building, but city staff said on Tuesday that it could take several months.