The Roeland Park City Council on Monday approved a plan for an eight-bed hospital and a Commerce Bank building on a tract of undeveloped land at the northwest corner of Roe Avenue and Johnson Drive.
The property is at a high-traffic intersection, across the street from the long-stalled proposed Mission Gateway project in the city of Mission.
A plan to build a larger bank on the corner had been approved by the Roeland Park council in 2012, but Commerce and Texas-based developer Embree Asset Group came back to Roeland Park with a proposal to downsize the bank and split the 3.7 acres between them. The Planning Commission approved the project last month.
At Monday’s special council meeting, Embree’s project design manager Steven Kirkpatrick would not name the operator to which the company plans to lease the building, However, The Star has previously reported that St. Luke’s Health System would operate an almost identical micro hospital proposed at 75th and Marty streets in Overland Park, for which Embree gained the city’s approval last month. And Kirkpatrick said his company was working on micro hospital projects in Overland Park and Leawood.
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The Roeland Park hospital will have eight beds for overnight stays and a Level 4 emergency room — one designed to handle less serious conditions. Kirkpatrick said the hospital would expect just two ambulance transports a month. Most patients — even emergency room patients — would be expected to arrive and depart in private vehicles.
The developers said the micro hospital trend has been around for some time and was just reaching the Kansas City area. The small facilities are designed to reduce ER waiting times by diverting patients from Level 1 ERs at major hospitals.
Kirkpatrick said Roeland Park’s mini hospital might be ready to open in late 2017.
Attorney Aaron March, representing the developers, said the combined projects would cost between $6 million and $9 million. The developers agreed to set aside one percent of those costs for artwork, perhaps to include a “gateway” sign welcoming travelers to Roeland Park on the corner.
The property was already zoned for mixed-use development, but the council had to approve the division of the tract, the renunciation of utility easements, preliminary and final development plans and a development agreement.
The council balked, however, at the design of the Commerce bank building as presented to them. Council members asked the architect on the project to bring back to them a building with more “character” and “interest,” among other terms they used. There were questions about the lack of ornamentation on the brick building.
The council approved the overall outline of the project while stipulating that Commerce would come back with a revised exterior plan before getting the go-ahead to build.