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University of Iowa Health Care, at the same time it’s moving swiftly to erect a $395 million 469,000-square-foot campus on a 60-acre site in North Liberty, is seeking to expand its footprint in Coralville near its popular Iowa River Landing clinic.
The university on Wednesday sought Board of Regents permission to spend nearly $1 million on a 29,971-square-foot plot of land within the IRL district along east Second Street.
“The land would provide UIHC with future development opportunities for both clinic services and parking, and allow UIHC to control frontage and vehicle movement from First and Second avenues,” according to board documents.
UIHC wants to buy the land at 704 E. Second Ave. — which sits adjacent two plots it bought for $30 a square foot in 2014 and $29 per square foot in 2017 — from TJC Properties LLC of North Liberty for $929,000 purchase, or $31 per square foot. It sits just north of the new Latitude at River Landing complex.
“UIHC has already purchased three other parcels of land at IRL District development,” according to regent documents.
“This property is the one remaining privately owned parcel that has not been redeveloped on this block. All the other parcels are either owned by the UIHC or the city of Coralville.”
The board request — which does not spell out specifically what UIHC wants to build on the site — notes a 5,600-square-foot building currently on the property houses two tenants on a month-to-month lease. UIHC would collect rent from those tenants and allow them to continue using the building until UIHC needs it for redevelopment.
As part of its board request, the university also wants a waiver from regent policy “of approving property purchases based on recent appraisals of the property.”
“The university and city have purchased all the surrounding land to the subject property over the past few years,” according to board documents. “The $31 per -square-foot is in line with other recent University property purchases.”
The board’s facilities committee, following the UI request, on Wednesday recommended the full board approve the project Thursday.
North Liberty project
Regents last week called a special meeting to approve construction of the massive UIHC expansion in North Liberty — just days after the state approved a hard-fought certificate of need opposed by numerous community health care providers in the area.
The project will include a 300,000-square-foot hospital with up to 48 inpatient beds, 21 emergency care rooms, 16 operating rooms, laboratories, a pharmacy and other amenities, alongside a second 169,000-square-foot academic, research and clinics building.
The State Health Facilities Council in February, faced with vocal opposition to the project, denied the university’s first application for a certificate of need to build the hospital portion of the project. The council, despite the same strident opposition, approved UIHC’s second application.
A spokesman for MercyOne, after the state’s approval, told The Gazette the decision “means 13 hospitals will now be serving Iowa City and the surrounding communities, creating unnecessary cost and competition at a time when all of Iowa’s health care entities should be working together.”
MercyOne spokesman Adam Amdor noted UIHC hadn’t discussed the extra cost of the second academic, research and clinics building during the certificate of need hearing.
“It took less than one week for UIHC to take the CON approval for their new North Liberty hospital and raise the overall cost increases that will result from this decision by $165 million,” he said. “What was presented to the Health Facilities Council as a $230 million hospital will now result in total cost increases for the UIHC system of nearly $400 million.”
He said the state gives opponents 30 days after the council issues its final written decision to appeal, and “MercyOne is currently considering next steps."
In addition to its work in North Liberty and sights on future Coralville development, UIHC is continuing to upgrade and renovate its main campus in Iowa City. And officials on Wednesday also sought approval to proceed with a nearly $29 million operating expansion in its existing John Pappajohn Pavillion.
The expansion would construct three new operating rooms, build six prep and recovery beds, and relocate the surgical and neurosciences intensive care lounge. UIHC wants to renovate the rest of the 20,000-square-foot space, according to regent documents, paying for the work with hospital revenue bonds, gifts and building usage funds.
“The UIHC’s surgical service department continues to be successful in recruiting new and highly trained surgeons to accommodate the growth in the number of patients who require very specialized and sub-specialized surgical procedures,” according to Iowa State’s request of the board.
“As a result, there has not only been an increase in the total number of annual main operating room suite surgical procedures, but also the level of complexity and the need for sophisticated space that can support new technology.”
The work would allow surgeons to perform another 600 to 700 cases annually, according to regent documents.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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