Miami's Mercy Hospital seeks neighbors' backing to double size
By Jacquelyn Weiner
To push ahead a major revamp that would add 1.1 million square feet, Mercy Hospital's counsel is vetting issues with nearby homeowner groups before the next Miami Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board meeting.
Mercy is requesting changes to its Major Use Special Permit approved in 1993 allowing the expansion.
The board was to decide Wednesday after postponing the issue twice, aiming to give the hospital time to meet with area residents, said Lewis Fishman, Mercy's corporate counsel.
"Varying groups have particular issues," Mr. Fishman said, "nothing at this point that seems insurmountable."
Most issues deal with traffic, he said. Mercy, 3663 S Miami Ave., is adjacent to north Coconut Grove residential areas.
Mr. Fishman said he's also meeting with The Vizcayans, a group that works to preserve the historic Vizcaya Museum and Gardens north of the hospital.
Mercy's revamp, which Mr. Fishman said aims to modernize the 1950s facility, would add 1.1 million square feet.
Among major upgrades are plans to add two hospital buildings to be built in two phases, creating a 1.2 million-square-foot hospital complex.
To do this, Mercy would raze 151,827 square feet of the existing space. Add 647,160 square feet of new construction and size would nearly double from the 673,176-square-foot hospital building.
In addition, plans include adding to an existing parking garage, building a new five-story, 920-space garage and a three-story energy plant.
The existing 292,060-square-foot garage would expand to 403,435 square feet, adding 275 parking spaces.
The new five-level, 318,500-square-foot garage would add 920 parking spaces. The three-story energy plant would be 11,250 square feet.
Although the hospital would be essentially doubling its main facility and adding 1,195 parking spaces, Mr. Fishman said Mercy's aim isn't to expand offerings.
"To me, the word expansion infers we are getting larger," he said. "While the square footage being built is greater… we are not adding services."
Mr. Fishman said the goal is to meet modern desires, not to expand outpatient services or other offerings.
No beds are to be added, but there would be more private rooms, which Mr. Fishman says is of greater importance to patients than in the past.
Plans are also to bring the facility up to modern design standards.
"The size of the [proposed] building is larger to accommodate the new ceiling-to-floor minimums, new technology, more rooms," he said.
Other than the energy plant, construction all would be within Mercy's current footprint, he said, using no new surface.
No timeline has been set, he said, and work would be in phases. Construction costs haven't been determined.
If Miami's Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board approves the changes to Mercy's Major Use Special Permit, city commissioners would vote twice on the project.
After that, Mr. Fishman said, Mercy would have to seek construction permits.
Expansion is only one change at Mercy. Hospital Corporation of America of Nashville last spring signed a letter of intent to acquire the 357-bed hospital from Catholic Health East.
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