OMC seeks rezoning as step toward hospital
Olathe Medical Center plans to seek rezoning for 40 acres on 91st Street in what officials with the hospital say will be the first step toward an eventual building of a hospital at the site.
Rod Corn, senior vice president of development for OMC, said center representatives would appear Tuesday before the De Soto Planning Commission to request the rezoning on the site across the street from USD 232's west campus. The rezoning to office or institutional uses would allow OMC to build a hospital at the site.
Corn said that was OMC's eventual plan for the De Soto location. But the site would be developed in phases in response to demand and growth in De Soto and the area.
"We want to get the zoning so we can build a hospital there," Corn said. "We just want to get that step taken so we don't have that limitation downstream."
An existing market and location drew OMC to De Soto, Corn said.
"We already see a good share of our market from De Soto," he said. "We feel good about the demand for this location.
"We really think this piece of land is the prime piece of property between Kansas City and Lawrence. It's the prime piece."
The first phase of OMC's development of the project would probably be some kind of out-service facility, Corn said. He and other hospital officials are currently working on site plans, but that effort is taking a backseat to the rezoning effort, he said.
The site could someday be home to a hospital comparable to the 300-bed unit at Olathe Medical Center, should growth in De Soto be as anticipated, Corn said.
"Whatever the rooftops and demand for services are, we'll put whatever makes sense," he said.
Olathe Medical Center employs 2,200 people and owns the 18-bed Miami County Hospital in Paola. Corn said OMC recently made additions to the staff at the Paola facility, including a full-time general surgeon.
"You can look at our track record; when we commit to an area, we commit to an area," he said. "When we come into a community, we're a part of that community."
OMC officials had informed a number of members of the community about their plans, Corn said. Among those on the list was USD 232 Superintendent Sharon Zoellner. She was excited about the education opportunities a neighbor like OMC could provide for De Soto students, including the possibility of a shadowing program, Corn said.
"We see all types of opportunities to be a good partner in the community," Corn said.
Another benefit of a future hospital would be the stimulus it would provide for retail development, Corn said. Evidence of that could be found near OMC in Olathe, he said.
De Soto Mayor Dave Anderson said OMC's interest in the city waexciting, acknowledging that the future hospital wouldn't be built "tomorrow."
"Moving like this shows how much vision they have," he said. "I don't think many of us realize the magnitude of this."
For all the excitement of the announcement, Tuesday's rezoning should be routine, City Engineer Mike Brungardt said. The request for office-institutional zoning was actually a down zoning from the site's current commercial classification, he said.
The city had encouraged OMC to provide future plans with the rezoning request, but that was not required, Brungardt said.
"We haven't talked specifically about their initial plan," he said. "We have encouraged them to include everything in there and just phase it out. They may choose not to do that."
Brungardt said OMC officials were aware that the city had limited sewer capacity available until the new wastewater plant was completed in 2007 and indicated that wasn't a concern.
The 91st Street site was well selected as far as access to existing infrastructure, Brungardt said. Water and sewer were available and, of course, there was ready access to K-10, he said.
But as details were learned with the submission of site plans, specific infrastructure needs would have to be addressed, Brungardt said. Those concerns included the capacity of sewer and water lines serving the site and modifications to 91st Street and Lexington Avenue to handle the increased traffic, both of which could require traffic signals as the project moved forward, he said.