GRAND RAPIDS — Metropolitan Hospital hopes to build what’s described as a “health care village” in Wyoming, creating a suburban hospital campus alongside the new South Beltline freeway.
Metropolitan announced today that it has signed an 18-month purchase option for 150 acres of land at Byron Center Avenue and Gezon Parkway. The site straddles the city of Wyoming-Byron Township line and is adjacent to an exit planned for the South Beltline.
Metropolitan, which is involved in affiliation talks with Borgess Health Alliance in Kalamazoo in which “all options” are on the table, envisions developing a new hospital and adjoining health-care services at the site to replace its existing 238-bed facility in southeast Grand Rapids. The hospital has outgrown its present location and is landlocked with little room available for expansion.
Early cost estimates peg the initial phase of the project at $150 million.
Plans for the new hospital have several hurdles to clear before proceeding. They include securing financing and receiving state regulatory approval to relocate the hospital from its present 17-acre site on Boston Street.
“If we get the required approvals and financing, the new hospital will be just the beginning of what will eventually become a health care village,” Metropolitan Hospital President Jim Faas said. “Our vision is to have multiple health care-related services on the site.”
Metropolitan hopes to begin construction by the summer of 2002 and occupy the new campus in 2005.
A suburban hospital campus would give Metropolitan Hospital a new base to serve the rapidly growing communities in southern Kent County. The site is easily accessible and within close proximity to three major highways — U.S. 131, I-96 and the South Beltline, which is slated to open in 2005.
The site’s selection came after Metro examined population patterns and growth projections for the area and determined that it was a convenient location for the hospital’s existing and future patient base, Metropolitan Marketing Director Jim Childress said. The site offers plenty of room to build and expand in the future, Childress said.
“We’re out of space and we need to build a new facility. So we backed up and looked at ‘if you could build a new facility, where would be the most advantageous?’” Childress said. “We really think it’s a great choice for the community and our future growth.
“I don’t think we could have done much better than to be within a short reach of three major highways,” he said.
Metropolitan will now begin refining its plan before seeking state regulatory approval to relocate. Childress believes the hospital can justify the move to state regulators.
“We think we have an excellent case to make,” he said. “It improves service to the whole region and that’s our motivation.”
Among the amenities that could possibly join the hospital at the new site are physician offices, an assisted-living center and a wellness center, Childress said.
Metropolitan would own or become a partner in some services, while others would become wholly owned operations held by other organizations.
“The actual mixture of services that will eventually make up the village is not known at this time,” Faas said. “What is known is that we will bring West Michigan a service unlike anything ever seen before in this part of the country.”
Today’s announcement comes as Metropolitan continues talking with Borgess Health Alliance about an affiliation that would unite the two organizations.
The two hospitals, seeking to reduce costs in what’s become a fiercely competitive industry, began talks more than two years ago, about a year after the former Butterworth and Blodgett hospitals merged to form Spectrum Health. Spectrum has since gone on to forge an affiliation with Hackley Health in Muskegon.
The negotiations with Borgess have yet to reach a firm conclusion, although one could come soon, Childress said. The talks also remain open-ended, he said.
“There have been no boundaries put around it at this time. All options are being considered,” Childress said.