MeritCare plans new facility in southwest FargoA large parcel of land awaiting development in southwest Fargo will be the focal point of Sanford Health-MeritCare’s future expanded metro medical services.
By: Patrick Springer, INFORUM
A large parcel of land awaiting development in southwest Fargo will be the focal point of Sanford Health-MeritCare’s future expanded metro medical services.
Executives of the health system later this month will present their concepts for a major new medical center at Agassiz Crossing, described earlier as a $250 million to $350 million facility.
Following ongoing planning and design work, the target date calls for construction to begin in 2013 and continue into 2016, said Dennis Millirons, president of MeritCare Medical Center.
MeritCare bought the Agassiz Crossing land a decade ago with future expansion in mind. The 109-acre parcel is more than five times bigger than the 20 acres at its downtown medical center.
Meanwhile, the downtown center will remain a significant presence, as will MeritCare’s South University Drive campus.
“Whatever we decide to do, we’ll continue to have a meaningful and active role downtown,” Millirons said.
The Agassiz Crossing site is located south of Interstate 94 between the 45th Street and Veterans Boulevard exits, also close to the interchange with Interstate 29, making it an ideal location for a regional medical hub, Millirons said.
“It’s a perfect setting for developing health care as we look to the future,” he said. “That’s our hundred-year future.”
But MeritCare administrators said it is still too early in the planning stages to talk about specific features for the new medical center.
Both the trauma center and Roger Maris Cancer Center are in need of more space, but Millirons said details of expansions still are being worked out as planning continues.
“I don’t think you’ll see expansion here,” Millirons said of the downtown medical center, which has aging infrastructure and space limitations. “I think you’ll see preservation of the better facilities.”
The Sanford-MeritCare executive team will offer its concept of the new medical center as part of a strategic plan it will present to the Sanford Health-MeritCare board of trustees in a meeting June 15-18.
“The results of the approval of the strategic plan will be the start of an exciting new era here,” Millirons said.
Kelby Krabbenhoft, the chief executive officer of Sanford-MeritCare, first spoke of the possible Agassiz Crossing medical center last August, when the merger of Sanford Health, based in Sioux Falls, S.D., and MeritCare still was pending.
At the time, Krabbenhoft said he envisioned a center of $250 million to $350 million, later adding that the complex could include an attached hotel. A hotel, if built, would be an independent project, but MeritCare believes its planned medical center would be “attractive” to a hotel developer, Millirons said.
After physicians, nurses and others finish their planning for the center, including future service needs and demographic studies, MeritCare will begin working with architects on a design, he said.
“You can well imagine that’s going to take awhile,” Millirons added.
MeritCare’s Agassiz Crossing parcel is adjacent to the Urban Plains Center development, where MeritCare and the YMCA of Fargo-Moorhead are expected to announce plans early this week for what the partners describe as a “comprehensive fitness and wellness center.”
MeritCare broke ground in Detroit Lakes, Minn., last week for a $15 million clinic expansion and is working on plans for a combined new clinic and hospital in Thief River Falls, Minn.
Also, beginning in July, Sanford Health-MeritCare will switch to a “unified brand,” but the name is not yet available for public release, MeritCare spokesman Darren Huber said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522