Meritus Health has begun the process to demolish the former Washington County Hospital on Antietam Street in Hagerstown.
The health system's demolition contractor, Brandenburg Industrial Services Co. of Chicago, Ill., applied earlier this week for demolition permits from the city of Hagerstown, according to city officials.
On Monday, Meritus is expected to issue a notice to proceed to the contractor, city officials said.
Once permits from the state and city are obtained, actual demolition work is expected to begin in late March or early April, said James Hamill, Meritus president and chief executive officer.
Brandenburg applied Tuesday for three demolition permits for the site, two for the hospital and one for Pangborn Hall, said Mary Reichert, city permits and licensing specialist.
The project is expected to proceed in stages, demolishing first the newer additions along King Street and the bridge connected to the hospital and Pangborn Hall, Reichert said.
All the buildings on the site, except for the parking garage, will come down, Hamill said.
Meritus chose to preserve the parking garage for potential use by a future owner, he said.
Should Meritus sell the property, the parking garage would be sold along with land following demolition, a health system news release said.
Meritus has an agreement with the state that it would demolish the hospital and leave the site as green space if another use was not found by Dec. 11, the one-year anniversary of its closing.
The health system worked with the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission to seek alternative uses, but nothing viable was found, Hamill said.
"This is the right thing to do for the community," Hamill said of the demolition. "There are not alternatives."
As part of the demolition process, Meritus will be required to follow state regulations for abating hazardous materials, including asbestos and fuel, on the site, he said.
By applying for multiple demolition permits, Reichert said that Meritus should be able to begin demolishing buildings that do not contain hazardous materials while it abates risks in the older structures.
Once the permits are received, Brandenburg will work Mondays through Saturdays from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to complete the demolition, the release said.
City Engineer Rodney Tissue said the city generally allows contractors to begin work at 6 a.m. but ask that it avoids making significant noise before 7 a.m.
Over the past months, many items that had to remain in the building until it closed have been disassembled, moved to the new hospital and installed there, but other items remained, Hamill told the Hagerstown City Council in January.
"We're cataloging what's in there," he said previously. "We will probably do a series of auctions, first for our employees, then for the public and clinical areas over the months ahead."
Demolition will commence with soil erosion and sediment control, followed by interior architectural demolition, including drywall, ceiling tiles and cabinetry, the release said.
No explosives will be used, and Brandenburg plans to recycle and reuse metal and concrete fill, the release said.
Hamill said he expects it will take one year to complete the project.
Sharon Disque, co-chairwoman of a community task force on the hospital site redevelopment, explained in January why the demolition would take months to complete.
"When demolition occurs, there will be salvage value there, so it's not going to be an implosion," she said previously. "Nobody's going to push a button and watch the hospital implode. It will be dismantled."
Once all buildings are demolished, most of the site will be covered with grass, according to city documents.