Martha Jefferson Hospital (MJH) recently announced the grand opening date for its new facility on Pantops: August 28, 2011. The current location of MJH’s 14-acre Downtown campus, however, remains without a contract for development once the hospital relocates.
On the redevelopment of Martha Jefferson Hospital’s Downtown campus, spokesman Steve Bowers said, without a contract from Crosland developers, “we’d really have to reconsider where we are.” One month later, that’s just the case.
Last year, North Carolina-based developer Crosland entered an exclusive agreement to negotiate with the hospital for the redevelopment of the Downtown site as a mixed-use project. Now, MJH spokesperson Steve Bowers says that Crosland has pulled out and the hospital is continuing its search for the best possible partner.
“We have expanded our search beyond Crosland,” he says. “I think they really respected our commitment to getting the process in place and moving this process forward so that our site doesn’t sit vacant for an extended period of time after we move.”
Joseph Barnes, director of architecture and design for Celebration Associates, a partner of Crosland, says that the reason for the company’s pullout is the sheer size of the project.
“It was a time and capacity issue,” he says. “Opportunities were presented to Martha Jefferson Hospital [and] we did not have the capacity within our team at this moment to move as quickly as they needed to, and we wanted to make sure that they had an ability to look at all the options they had in front of them.”
Despite the slow and treacherous rebounding of the national economy, Bowers says he has seen an increased interest in the project. “Since the beginning of the year, we have been contacted by several development entities, local and otherwise,” he says.
MJH won’t start at square one. The hospital has already called a new player into action—AECOM, a global consulting firm that worked with MJH on a market study in 2007, to help the hospital pick the best developer.
“The reason that we have decided to bring AECOM back into the picture is so that once again we establish a level playing field for folks to make their interest known,” says Bowers. Calls to AECOM were not immediately returned.
Although MJH is optimistic, neighbors are disappointed that the partnership between the hospital and Crosland ended.
“We were impressed with the way they reached out to the community, and [Crosland] clearly had a good track record elsewhere around the country,” writes Bruce Odell, president of the Martha Jefferson Neighborhood Association, in an e-mail.
“While we all want the hospital to come out of all this financially whole, the neighborhood remains concerned that the quality not lose out to expediency,” he adds. “However the redevelopment is done, it must blend in well with the neighborhood, not add to traffic or parking woes, and reflect an open and constructive dialogue between the hospital, the developer and the Martha Jefferson community.”
Bowers says the site will likely be a mixed-use development that will respect the scale and style of the neighborhood. “It’s very much our intention that houses along Locust Avenue will remain and that we will absolutely preserve the Patterson wing, which was the original building,” he says.
C-VILLE welcomes news tips from readers. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.