Developer plans for year-end construction start at former hospital property

Wayne Johnson, a Georgia-based real estate developer, came to town to finalize his $516,000 purchase of the former hospital property and six adjacent borough-owned lots.

Johnson said in an interview Sunday, June 2, that he still needed to work out some details on the purchase of the six lots but anticipated no problems and expected to sign the papers this week, before he needs to return to Georgia.

He plans to start demolition in October, with site preparation and start of construction by year-end, he said.

Johnson has changed his plans somewhat from when he made his offer on the former hospital building in February. He has scaled back from looking at putting up as many as 48 units, now planning for 36 to 40 condos. They would be a mix of two-bedroom and three-bedroom units; he decided not to include any one-bedroom residences.

The development will include covered parking and will be called Wrangell Heritage House.

He is still targeting a sales price of $450,000 to $500,000 per unit, he said.

The residences could be ready for occupancy by the end of 2025, depending on the construction schedule, Johnson said.

He has not yet settled on a demolition or construction contractor but has been talking with experienced Southeast companies for the work.

Johnson plans to be in Wrangell for a few weeks this summer following the June 18 run-off election for his U.S. Congress candidacy in Georgia.

He placed first among four candidates in the May 21 Republican primary, advancing to a two-person Republican run-off to face the incumbent Democratic congressman who has held the seat for 32 years. Johnson placed third in the 2022 Republican primary for the same seat.

In addition to his real estate development plans, Johnson also plans to open a food truck called The Spirit of Wrangell that will sell local seafood in town.

He had a trailer custom built in Georgia for the business, which he is shipping to town along with his personal belongings. The operation will include metal picnic tables and a covered seating area, he said, adding that he is looking for a location.

Johnson said he was inspired to bring in the food truck after he was unable to find fresh crab when he visited Wrangell earlier this year. He plans to sell things like Dungeness crab, shrimp and chowder — all of which he will source locally.


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