Plans for a 121,600-square-foot office-residential mental health facility at 1000 W. University Drive consisting of first floor offices and a two-story assisted living, memory care operation on the second and third floors was well received on Monday, November 12, by Rochester city council members.
The project, which would require zoning amendments and/or alteration of special project area boundaries, was presented to council by representatives from Ascension Crittenton Hospital, Ascension Real Estate, Cornerstone Medical Group and Torch Development in order to determine whether council would be accepting of the project should it move forward.
"We have been very actively involved in investing and positioning Ascension in your community. From a real estate perspective, the current building is functionally obsolete," Mark Yagerlener, director of Ascension Real Estate, said.
Currently, a 32,257-square-foot office building exists at the site, which includes three floors and a height of 2.5 stories, as well as 164 parking spaces. The proposed building would be a full three stories in height, with a subfloor garage and exterior parking lot. Plans include razing the existing building and constructing a new hybrid three-story building to house medical offices on the first floor and a 68-bed memory care facility on the second and third floors.
Yagerlener said the hospital hopes to enhance the existing land to meet community need for healthcare and services for the community's aging population. The partnership with the developer and operator of memory care facility will provide services to care for the aged that have memory and dementia-related issues.
The facility would differ from other memory care facilities in that it would cater to those with combative or high-anxiety issues. And, by having a neurologist and other services housed on the first floor, the facility would provide a different offering than other memory-care facilities in the area. It's also located across the street from the Ascension Crittenton Hospital.
Dr. James Cho, with Cornerstone Medical Group, said there's need for memory care facilities for patients with dementia and other issues that have high anxiety or combative issues. Currently, he said, there are few places for such patients to go when they become combative.
"There's really no good answer for this, but it's something we have to address going forward," he said.
Councilwoman Kim Russell said there appears to be a need for the service in the community, and that the proposed building was an improvement over the existing structure. However, she said it's important for the developer and operator to establish and keep trust with members of the community.
Councilwoman Ann Peterson also gave positive feedback on the building, but questioned whether the proposed height would be an issue.
"If we can make this work to take care of those people, that would be a good thing," she said.
Peterson also recommended that the planning commission pursue the accommodations in a way that syncs the development with other medical projects in the area, rather than an isolated PICA development project.
Councilman Dean Bevacqua, who serves on the planning commission, said he liked the project and believes it fills a need in the community.
Council voted unanimously to refer the project to the planning commission. In order to proceed, the project will need to come back before city council as a special project, as well as for a formal site plan review.
"It's still going to come back as a special project, so we get another bite at the apple, and then another bite with the project itself," said councilman Ben Giovanelli. "So, we get lots of bites – just make sure there's no worms in it."