Hackley North Ottawa Head To Head

October 13, 2004
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NORTON SHORES — Hackley Health System's plans to anchor a new medical office park envisioned for property near the Lakes Mall would ratchet up health-care services and competition within the rapidly growing area of southern Muskegon County.

Hackley Health is weighing a myriad of medical services to house in a two-story, 60,000-square-foot facility that Rockford Development Co. plans to develop along Harvey Street near Farr Road, just east of U.S. 31.

The site, now owned by West Michigan Christian High School, sits just up the road from a parcel at Harvey Street and Pontaluna Road where North Ottawa Community Health System is planning a new medical campus of its own.

After searching for a site in the area for more than two years, Hackley Health saw an opportunity to partner with Rockford Development and stake out a larger position in a territory where none of the competing health care providers have a particularly strong market share.

Rockford's vision of developing a medical park setting at this location fits perfectly in our strategic plan to find new ways to offer greater access for our patients," Hackley Health CEO Gordon Mudler said. "Many of our physicians already serve patients from this region and this is a tremendous opportunity for physicians to get closer to their patients."

Among the medical services under consideration for the new campus are primary care physician offices, urgent care, laboratory, radiology, physical therapy, and women's medical and lifestyle services.

They are many of the same medical services that North Ottawa Community Heath is weighing for a nearby 20.8-acre site that was the one-time home of a church that was acquired earlier this year. The property sits on the south side of the Ottawa-Muskegon county line, just off the 31-Pontaluna Road interchange.

North Ottawa Community Health, which sees its new campus as providing a far larger presence in the Spring Lake area and a foothold to penetrate the southern Muskegon County market, is conducting internal and marketing studies to determine the exact medical services to locate to the site.

"We really want to find out what services people want there," North Ottawa Community Health CEO Mike Payne said. "The days of saying, 'let's build it and they will come' are over in health care. You'd better build what the community wants."

Hackley Health's plans do not add any urgency to North Ottawa Community Health's planning, Payne said. He anticipates the small Grand Haven-based health system can renovate the existing structure and have the first medical services in place at the new campus within a year.

Hackley and North Ottawa's planned campuses would provide both health systems a significantly larger presence in a rapidly growing area that includes Norton Shores and Fruitport in southern Muskegon County and Spring Lake in northern Ottawa County.

Hackley Health, a part of Grand Rapids-based Spectrum Health, has been seeking a site in that area of Muskegon County for more than two years, Community Relations Manager Stuart Jones said.

The Rockford Development site sits about a mile south of the Lakes Mall that anchors a fast-growing retail, commercial and residential corridor. Strong residential growth is also occurring in the surrounding areas of the county, as well as in neighboring northern Ottawa County.

Hackley Health presently lacks a large presence in southern Muskegon County. Only one of its 11 primary-care physician offices, which includes more than 40 doctors and none of its five blood labs, are located south of Mona Lake, Jones said. The health system did place a physician in a small office located along Harvey Street earlier this year.

Becoming part of the medical office park that Rockford Development envisions fits with Hackley Health's business and growth strategy, Jones said.

"We see there is a lack of medical services in an area that is growing. It is the epicenter of growth in Muskegon County," Jones said. "We know there is a business and a market opportunity in southern Muskegon County and we want to be there."

Rockford Development has options to acquire up to 30 acres from West Michigan Christian High School. Future complementary medical buildings are possible for the site after the initial facility is developed for Hackley Health.

Rockford Development anticipates breaking ground on the project in early 2005.

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