City Proposes Hospital Locate at Downtown Clinic Site

The new McKenzie-Willamette hospital could be built on a widely-supported downtown site centered on the Eugene Clinic under a proposal sent to the hospital this morning, May 21, by Eugene planning director Susan Muir.

The site centers on the medical clinic at 12th and Olive streets and its surrounding surface parking lots as well as adjacent largely underutilized downtown real estate. A similar downtown site was once proposed as an alternative to moving PeaceHealth to Riverbend by a coalition of progressives opposed to urban sprawl.

Muir wrote that the site offers the wide support, size, easier approval, lower cost, quicker construction and high visibility that the hospital has said it needs. The downtown location “will be of maximum benefit to all parties, build upon our existing assets and continue to create a vibrant, economic center within our city and our region,” Muir wrote.

The city council has expressed “unanimous support” for a downtown hospital and the clinic site has “very strong support across broad spectrums of our elected officials, as well as our community,” Muir wrote. Muir said the city has approached PeaceHealth to talk about the city purchasing an option for the clinic property or selling the property directly to McKenzie-Willamette.

The site, adjacent property and nearby room for medical office buildings totals about 22 acres spanning over up to a dozen downtown blocks, according to Muir. That’s larger than the 13-acre UO Riverfront Research Park that the hospital recently expressed interest in.

Muir described the regulatory approval process for the site as “minimal.” The clinic site “is in the heart of our city and already planned to accommodate the type of trips your hospital would propose,” she wrote.

With the help of city urban renewal funds, the site can be made “shovel ready” within the price the hospital has said it is willing to pay, Muir wrote. The downtown location requires less spending on new road and other infrastructure, she said.

A hospital could be finished at the clinic site within the preferred four-year time frame expressed by McKenzie-Willamette, according to Muir. PeaceHealth has said it will vacate the clinic not later than the end of 2010. Before then, McKenzie-Willamette will have time to work on building plans and approvals.

The centrally located site has high visibility and is easily accessible, and near the bus station, downtown library and BRT line, Muir wrote.

If the hospital chooses the site, Muir said the city will offer substantial help and subsidies. The city will pay for a new 500-car parking garage for the hospital by expanding the downtown urban renewal district, vacate parts of 12th and Olive and public alleys and give the land to the hospital, pay for or waive regulator fees and assist with the acquisition of land for the project.

Here’s a link to a Google map of the proposed hospital site. Not all
the identified potential land/buildings may be used for the project.

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