Alliance looks for new use for former nursing home property – Canton Repository

ALLIANCE – An unattractive brick building with broken windows and weeds sprouting out of the gutters sits on Freshley Avenue, surrounded by cracked pavement and overgrown bushes. 

The seven-acre property once housed a nursing home, but the facility has been deteriorating since it shut down 20 years ago.

Now, the city has taken ownership of the blighted property and plans to return it to use. The land is situated less than a mile from Carnation City Mall, and with the redevelopment of the shopping center on the horizon, interest in the property may increase.

What happened to the nursing home? 

The nursing home at 1495 Freshley Ave. opened in 1961, according to a 2002 article from The Alliance Review.

Horizon Meadows was a 78-bed facility that accepted elderly residents and people with behavioral disabilities. The building, according to former Social Service Director AnneMarie Snyder, was simple but had beautiful grounds.  

“It didn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but the employees that were there took great care of the residents. Everybody took pride in the facility, and it was kind of like a little home,” she said.   

The nursing home shuttered its doors in 2002, roughly two years after Integrated Health Services, the Maryland-based company that owned Horizon Meadows, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Integrated Health Services operated hundreds of nursing homes across the country.  

Horizon Meadows Administrator Tom Blabac told The Alliance Review in 2002 that Integrated Health Services was required to divest itself of facilities that weren’t making money. 

“We were on the list,” Blabac said. 

At the time, Horizon Meadows housed 46 residents, ranging in age from 31 to 93, and boasted 57 employees. Snyder, who worked at the nursing home for several years, said the employees were saddened to learn it would be closing. 

“In the nursing home business, you want that therapy and a lot of residents because it brings income,” she said. “We were smaller, not the prettiest, and sometimes families can’t get past that to see that we had such great care.”  

‘Completely destroyed’ 

As the facility has remained vacant, the conditions of the building have declined. Sometime in 2018 or 2019, YouTube vlogger Nate Rambaud filmed a video of himself exploring the inside of the deteriorating facility. The video shows broken glass and ceiling insulation littering the floor and bird nests perched in the ceiling. 

“The entire place was just completely destroyed,” he said.  

Rambaud is a Canton native who started making YouTube videos six years ago. He posts many videos of himself visiting vacant or abandoned shopping centers and facilities. 

He previously worked as a nurse and said it “kind of hit home” walking into the former nursing home knowing how a facility like this is supposed to look. Rambaud said the building had many of the characteristics typically found in abandoned facilities. 

“Obviously local kids or who knows who broke all the windows, they did graffiti, they put holes in the walls and the doors,” Rambaud said. “Then of course you have scrapers that come in and tear out the walls so they can get the copper.”

Based on water damage Rambaud saw in the facility, he thinks it would take a lot of repairs to get the structure back to useable condition.

What’s next for the property? 

The city acquired the property from the Stark County Land Bank in February 2020. City Director of Planning and Economic Development Joe Mazzola said the land had been severely tax delinquent. 

The property has an appraised total value of $395,400, according to the Stark County Auditor’s Office. 

Alliance hopes to see the land return to use in the near future. 

“There has been interest (in the site) as word has gotten out that we are looking to dispose of the property,” Mazzola said. 

City officials will be working with the Greater Alliance Development Corporation to invite interested parties to submit proposals for the acquisition of the property. Several criteria will be considered in the decision-making process, such as intended use, viability, economic impact and compatibility with the area.

“Price is not the sole criteria by any means,” Mazzola said. 

City Councilman Jim Edwards (R-4) said he’s glad to see the property may become viable again.

Properties along Freshley Avenue and in the surrounding area, he said, have seen interest since the announcement that Meijer will be serving as the anchor of the Carnation City Mall redevelopment project. Edwards said development at the property will be positive for the city, whether it’s for commercial or residential use. 

“I’m really glad that it will be turning into something instead of an eyesore,” Edwards said. 

Snyder said it surprised her that nothing has moved into the area yet. She believes it would be an ideal location for another nursing home or homeless shelter. 

Rambaud also feels the land would be a good space for a nursing home. 

“It is kind of on a back road from what I remember. Honestly, I think what they had there— the adult care center—was probably a perfect location for one. I just think they’d probably have to bulldoze the one that’s there and totally rebuild it,” he said. 

Reach Paige at 330-580-8577 or, or on Twitter at @paigembenn.