Medical office building gets approval in Coon Rapids

The green light has been given by the Coon Rapids City Council for a four-story medical office building proposed by Mercy Hospital across Coon Rapids Boulevard from the hospital.

Architect’s rendering of the new Mercy Hospital medical building looking from the intersection of Coon Rapids Boulevard and Blackfoot Street. Source: city of Coon Rapids
Architect’s rendering of the new Mercy Hospital medical building looking from the intersection of Coon Rapids Boulevard and Blackfoot Street. Source: city of Coon Rapids

The council Aug. 8 approved a site plan for the proposed 120,000 square-foot building at the northwest corner of Coon Rapids Boulevard and Blackfoot Street.

According to David Moga, project manager, Pope Associates, the architectural firm that designed the project, ground breaking is anticipated in September or October with completion in November 2013.

The council was excited by the project.

“This is a great project,”  said Councilmember Paul Johnson.

What excited Councilmember Scott Schulte was that the development of the Mercy project and the North Suburban Eye Specialists Clinic at Coon Rapids and Round Lake boulevards are both in Port Wellness, one of four ports along Coon Rapids Boulevard that have been specifically earmarked by the council for development and redevelopment, he said.

“We have been waiting for these types of projects for years,” Schulte said. “They have been a long time coming.”

“I am thrilled that Allina and Mercy are building this facility.”

Mercy has been talking with the city about a medical building project for some two years, according to Community Development Director Marc Nevinski.

Under the site plan, Mercy is proposing the building on three lots with a combined area of 11.17 acres; two of the lots are vacant and one contains a single-family house.

For some years the house has been home to Mercy’s adult mental health outpatient program and it will be removed as part of the project.

But the existing stand of oak trees at the corner of Coon Rapids Boulevard and Blackfoot Street will be preserved, according to Planner Scott Harlicker.

There will be no access on to Coon Rapids Boulevard, but there will be three access points on Blackfoot Street, which has a signalized intersection with Coon Rapids Boulevard, Harlicker wrote in his report to the council.

Two will be for patients and staff and one for service and deliveries.

According to City Engineer Doug Vierzba, Blackfoot Street will be reconstructed by the city in 2013 once the heavy equipment has completed work on the project site.

The building is being placed on the site in a way that will accommodate a possible pedestrian skyway across Coon Rapids Boulevard to the hospital in the future, Harlicker said.

But the site plan recommended by the commission does not include a skyway, he said.

In his presentation to the planning commission, Moga said there was potential for a skyway over the boulevard or a pedestrian tunnel under the boulevard in the future.

In discussions with Anoka County – Coon Rapids Boulevard is a county highway – he told the commission that the county had insisted that any skyway would have to clear the span of Coon Rapids Boulevard and make sure there were no blocked sight lines along the boulevard.

“People are excited by the prospect of a skyway,” Johnson said. “It would be like downtown.”

Mayor Tim Howe said he will be interested to see how Mercy ties the two buildings together.

Under the approved site plan, the exterior of the building has a variety of materials, including three colors of brick and a pre-cast architectural limestone base and bands, while the primary street level facing both Coon Rapids Boulevard and Blackfoot will be 60 percent glass.

The main entrance to the building will be set off by a canopy and there will be a tower-like feature anchoring the southeast corner.

“This is a very nice building,” Harlicker told the council.

Parking, which will include 552 spaces, is oriented to Blackfoot Street and to the rear of the property, where a storm retention pond will be constructed.

The pond will be designed to temporarily hold water and then dry out, not be a wet pond, Harlicker wrote in his report to the council.

According to Harlicker, the landscaping plan complies or exceeds the city’s requirements. It includes 228,614 square feet of open space (5.25 acres) compared with the code requirement of 97,000 square feet.

In recommending approval to the council, the commission thought the building was well designed and attractive.

According to information provided to the council by Moga, the tenant mix, while not yet finalized, is expected to include cancer treatment clinics, OB clinic and a variety of other specialty clinics.

One major tenant anticipated is an ambulatory surgery center, which will provide same day surgeries and other minor invasive procedures, Moga wrote.

The clinic will have normal operating hours and will not be a 24-hour facility.

Allina Health, of which Mercy Hospital is a part, is investing $22 million in the project, according to an earlier press release.

Mercy Hospital is a 271-bed non-profit hospital that is nationally recognized for clinical excellence and compassionate care, according to its website.

Mercy offers a wide range of specialty services including a cancer center, heart and vascular services, emergency and trauma care, orthopedics and neurosciences, mental health services, surgical services and da Vinci system and women’s and children’s services.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]