Moab Regional Hospital submitted an offer to purchase a 21.73-acre parcel from Grand County for $1.9 million for the purpose of creating housing for Grand County healthcare workers, and Grand County Commissioners unanimously approved the deal.

The property is located in the San Juan County part of Spanish Valley, at the corner of Spanish Valley Drive and Allen Street. The agreement includes a deed restriction that the property be used for 100% workforce housing, using definitions for actively employed households used in other Grand County programs and policies. That deed restriction stays with the property even if the hospital decides to sell all or part of it. If the hospital does at some point sell all or some of the property, it will split net profits with the county, with 60% going to the hospital and 40% going to the county.

Commissioners agreed that while land is an important asset in the Moab area, this seemed like a good way to dispose of a parcel the county wasn’t using. The agreed-upon price is the appraised value of the parcel, commissioners noted.

“I do think that this is a win-win for our community and all around,” said Commissioner Evan Clapper. “It feels like cleaning house but also actively promoting affordable housing in the valley.”

“In general, I think we should be cautious about disposing of land, because it’s pretty hard to acquire new land in the valley,” said Commissioner Kevin Walker. “But this does seem like a good deal, especially with the workforce housing requirements that go to future owners as well.”

The local housing crisis has created a staffing problem for many Moab-area employers, including essential service providers like the police department and the hospital, as potential employees turn down positions because they can’t find housing. MRH leadership has been researching possible housing solutions for staff at the hospital as well as other local organizations that support MRH’s mission.

MRH CEO Jen Sadoff said that beyond acquiring the land, the hospital doesn’t have specific plans yet for what housing might look like. Their focus right now is on two major projects: construction on a major expansion to the hospital (which is projected to be complete in March of 2024), and going live on a new electronic medical record system.

“We likely won’t start to focus on the housing plan until later in 2023, but we will definitely be checking in with potential partners in the community,” Sadoff said.

Grand County owns other parcels that it has publicly stated it would consider selling: there’s a roughly 40 acre parcel where the motorcross track is, and a four acre parcel on Highway 191.