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An adult living center at hospital site?

It's one of many ideas for what will be the former campus of Community Hospital in a few years. But other ideas may develop.

By BRIDGET HALL GRUMET
Published February 1, 2006


NEW PORT RICHEY - It's the big question in New Port Richey: What will become of the old Community Hospital campus when the hospital moves to Trinity?

City Manager Scott Miller is toying with one possible answer: An adult congregate living facility.

Miller envisions a complex with "maybe several hundred" apartments, along with a cafeteria, a recreation center and a facility providing in-house medical care. He points to a Tampa Bay Engineering study from a couple of years ago that said there's a need for such a facility in New Port Richey.

"You've got baby boomers that, in the next five to 10 years, are going to be retiring," Miller said Tuesday. "There's a lot of them, and where are they going to go?"

Of course at this point that's just an idea. The city's planning consultant, URS, would evaluate that option and others as part of a master development plan for the site. URS awaits the City Council's approval to start drafting the plan.

Other ideas for the 23-acre site include an office park or a private school, although it is unclear how much need there might be for either one, Miller said.

Ultimately, once the city picks a concept, officials would have to find a company willing to buy the site and build the project. The campus is valued at $20-million for tax purposes.

The city has earmarked $250,000 for planning and marketing the Community Hospital site, which is owned by the for-profit Hospital Corporation of America. The campus is the city's largest taxpayer, paying $142,715 last year.

Whatever the next use is, Miller said, "it's got to be taxable."

"I can't afford to lose (Community Hospital) and not replace them," he said.

In a Jan. 30 memo to council members, Miller said hospital CEO Kathryn Gillette is "more than happy" to work with the city on finding a good use for the old hospital site.

"I think we need to take a positive approach and work with the hospital," Miller told the Pasco Times. "Whatever we come up with, I'm sure the hospital will be right there to support us."

The hospital tentatively plans to start soil testing this month on its new site behind the Mitchell Ranch Shopping plaza, said Mary Sommise, the hospital's director of marketing. If all goes well with the permitting process, she said, construction would start in May and last two years.

By mid 2008, Community would leave its cramped, aging quarters in New Port Richey for a six-story hospital in booming Trinity.

Bridget Hall Grumet covers New Port Richey. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6244 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6244. Her e-mail address is bhall@sptimes.com

[Last modified February 1, 2006, 01:04:14]


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