Bonds Sell For Zeeland Hospital

October 14, 2004
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ZEELAND — Completing a financing package allows Zeeland Community Hospital to surpass a key milestone in the development of a new $36.1 million campus.

Zeeland Community late last month executed a $29.9 million bond sale to finance the lion's share of the new 114,000-square-foot hospital now under construction along Chicago Drive, just east of town. Zeeland Community will finance the remaining cost through a capital campaign and the sale of its existing campus.

The completion of the bond sale and financing, arranged through Huntington National Bank and split evenly between variable and fixed-rate bonds, enables hospital executives to put more attention on the next phases of their development plan for the new campus, including planning the hospital's relocation, selling the existing site and the upcoming public capital campaign.

"It's a significant event in the timeline and the process. We've gotten a significant piece of the puzzle out of the way," Zeeland Community Hospital Vice President of Finance George Smart said. "We're exactly where we need to be at this point."

The hospital is replacing an aging, nearly 50-year-old facility on the city's south side that's inefficient and has no room left for expansion to accommodate burgeoning patient volumes and evolving medical techniques and technology. Featuring all private rooms, the new facility in Zeeland Township is expected to generate efficiency and productivity gains for the hospital, helping to contain future operating costs.

Construction on the new hospital began in June. Occupancy is targeted for 2006.

With the four-floor, 57-bed facility will come an attached 28,000-square-foot professional office building to house administrative functions, plus an adjoining medical office building, developed and operated by Hughes Management of Grand Rapids under a 50-year land lease agreement, for physician practices and related health services such as physical therapy and behavioral health.

Next up for hospital administrators is to begin planning for the relocation when the new facility opens in March or April of 2006, Smart said. Administrators and staff will spend eight to 12 months mapping out a transition process to implement a smooth relocation that will start with an orientation period when construction is completed toward the end of January 2006, he said.

"It's not the type of move where you just close it down and move it over in two weeks. It's got to be staged and well planned so it doesn't disrupt the operations," Smart said. "It's kind of a domino effect we're thinking through."

At the same time, hospital administrators are working with commercial real estate firm Focus Properties in Holland to market the existing site. A community work group has been examining potential uses for the site's redevelopment that are compatible with the surrounding residential neighborhood.

The hospital will "shoot for" an asking price of $3 million for the existing hospital site, although a final transaction will depend on a potential buyer's planned redevelopment use, Smart said.

The location of the new campus, at Chicago Drive and Felch Street, provides Zeeland Community the potential to expand its patient base and market share by stepping up efforts to draw from the Hudsonville, Jenison and Georgetown markets along the I-196 and Chicago Drive corridors. The new campus will provide the space needed to add medical services such as MRI scans at a convenient location that's easily accessible from around the region. 

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