The grounds of the old hospital have been sitting idle since 2013.
"We've tried for a year and half to re purpose the old Allen County Hospital," said county counselor Alan Weber. "We haven't had any luck with that. it's just too big and too expensive to re purpose."
So, out with the old, in the with new.
The space, which exists at the corner of Madison and First streets, will now be a mixed-use destination that will include a new grocery store
"Which is something that people have been very optimistic about, very hopeful about," said Weber.
This includes resident Mary Ross, who says Iola needs more options.
"I want different ingredients sometimes and i'm just very limited unless i want to drive two hours and that's not feasible," she said.
David Toland of Thrive Allen County has been working on the project in tandem with county commissioners. he says bringing a new grocer to town will bring needed competition to the area.
"I think everybody wants competition. that's a natural part of our economic system and we think competition makes everybody better," he said.
"I'm not putting down the store we have, it fits a need, but there's other needs," said Ross.
And the project fills another need: housing. plans include up to 40 new residential units.
Toland says this is an opportunity for Iola and the county as a whole, to turn things around.
"There are good reasons for optimism and this is going to be a game changer for the community."
County commissioners agreed on Tuesday to work exclusively with G & W Foods for the grocery store. They're also currently accepting bids for the demolition of the old hospital building.