4-story, $33M structure planned on medical center campus

Susquehanna Health cleared an initial step Monday toward the creation of a $33 million medical office building on the campus of the Williamsport Regional Medical Center along High Street.

The city Planning Commission gave a positive recommendation to the health care provider’s request for a lot consolidation, subdivision and land development that is scheduled to go before City Council on May 16. Should council approve the plan, the groundbreaking for the “Health Innovation Center” is scheduled for mid-July, according to Tracie Witter, director of corporate communications for Susquehanna Health.

To pay for a portion of the costs the health care provider is seeking $7 million in new market tax credits. “We have a capital campaign under way raising funds through donations through a foundation,” Witter said.

The fourth floor of the facility will be reserved for a family medicine residency program and The Commonwealth Medical College, Witter said. The residency program consists of medical students who will become family practice physicians.

“We’re a teaching institution,” she said.

The medical college, for which the hospital is one of three campuses in the state that hosts the medical students, is for the students as they continue their training.

The third floor will be for physicians specializing in pulmonology and neurology. The second floor will contain heart and vascular specialists and related services. The first floor is set aside for general surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, along with space for an outpatient retail pharmacy and durable equipment.

The design indicates the building would be connected to the Susquehanna Tower by an enclosed walkway.

“It matches the architectural style of the rest of the tower, with its brick and stamped concrete that blends in,” Witter said.

The plan at Susquehanna Health shows an 87,000-square-foot building on what now is a parking lot.

Christopher E. Keiser, who works for Larson Design Group, which is involved in the project from a design perspective, abstained in his vote as a member of the commission.

Estimated time for construction is 12 to 14 months, said Dan Hoffman, director of engineering and capital projects at Susquehanna Health.

“That brings us to the fall of 2014,” he said.