Sarasota Memorial Unveils Laurel Plans

Growing its health services and providing community facilities is the priority for Sarasota Memorial Hospital in planning the new Laurel Road Ambulatory Campus.

"It will be a primary care one-stop with everything outpatient, but nothing inpatient," said Deborah Taylor, SMH operations director.

The project is part of the hospital's Ambulatory Strategic Plan for outpatients, with 12 locations in Manatee and Sarasota counties.

Planners have prepared an imaginative design for the 65 acres southwest of the Laurel Road Interstate 75 interchange that the hospital acquired in 2005 for $25 million.

"It will be a modality one-stop concept with a shopping community including a five-star upscale hotel, restaurant, bank and pharmacy," said Taylor.

The campus is designed with two 25,000-square-foot interconnected buildings. The main unit, envisaged to be three floors, is linked to the adjoining one- or two-floor building. According to Taylor, the size depends upon the input of doctors and surgeons wishing to use the facilities.

The whole ambulatory surgery center will have state-of-the-art facilities in both buildings. Services will cover every aspect of primary care: pain management; rehabilitation, including cardiac; laboratory; and imaging components for MRI, CT, mammography, bone density, ultrasound and nuclear.

"What we term 'bread and butter' services will be the potential for here," said Taylor.

White Venetian

Current plans show the front of building with some type of beacon facing I-75 and a landscaped stormwater run-off pond in front. Ample parking surrounds each building.

The Venetian theme buildings conform to city of Venice requirements but will probably be shell white stucco finish, branding colors for SMH.

The southernmost signalized entry from Pinebrook Road will be circular so drivers can pull up to drop off patients, avoiding walking as much as possible. Another access is planned for Laurel Road.

"Everything we are showing on our plans right now is all dependent upon physicians who are operational and others coming into this area," said Taylor. "Some may time-share with us to grow their market by coming to Laurel twice a week while keeping their offices elsewhere. Surgeons may want economic investment and will buy space, others preferring to share. Important negotiations with doctors will identify all the support services they will require."

Retail component

In the western corner adjoining Pinebrook and Laurel roads is a 110,000-square-foot "L"-shaped piece that SMH wants to sell off for retail, proving the necessary financing to build the infrastructure.

"When you have this big of a campus, you really need to have a small, five-star, upscale hotel," said Taylor. "We have been approached by Hilton, Marriott and others."

Drive-through businesses -- Walgreens, Wendy's or McDonald's and a Starbuck's coffee shop -- and other restaurants -- Perkins, Chili's, Macaroni Grill are planned.

There could eventually be 200 employees at the location. Add in patients, visitors and local residents and it's a major attraction to pharmacies, banks and restaurants.

Although plans have been submitted, the project is several years away from being built.

In the submitted plans SMH seeks to commence development of the retail outparcel no later than June 1, 2008. Discussions are under way with the city of Venice on the infrastructure, with the No. 1 concern being the road impact.

Water; sanitary sewer, which has to be constructed under the interstate; electricity; telephone; cable TV; and gas are expected to be available to the site by September 2008.

It is likely to take a year to get the infrastructure pad ready. Laying out utilities, hooking them up, paving internal roads and getting parking lots completed are all within phase one.

Phase two will be the construction and opening of the medical campus, likely in 2009 or 2010. Phase three could be an assisted living facility.

By Roger Button

Businews Columnist



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