Fairview Hospital unveils North Campus options

In this massing — an image intended to show only the location and scale of proposed structures — Cleveland Clinic shows how a new Medical Office Building (MOB) and Cancer Center north of Lorain Avenue might overlook the Rocky River valley and extend east with two floors below a new multi-level parking garage (CannonDesign). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Neighbors push back on northward expansion

At a community meeting this evening at Fairview Hospital, Cleveland Clinic Foundation officials showed five design options for developing a new clinical building containing the Moll Cancer Center and medical offices plus a new parking garage on Fairview Hospital’s North Campus, north of Lorain Avenue. While there were some variations in the scale and shaping of the clinical building, the greatest difference between the options was where and how to construct a new parking garage or three.

The purpose of the meeting was to gather public input to guide Cleveland Clinic officials in reducing the number of development options. While this meeting won’t result in a final decision on which option to pursue, ultimately Clinic officials want to select an option to advance into more detailed designed and engineering.

There is no specific timeline yet for moving forward and no option favored by Clinic officials, said Cleveland Clinic Executive Director Jorge “Pat” Rios in a phone interview with NEOtrans. But the next public meeting is scheduled for July 10 where hospital representatives will share refined options and a tentative timeline for the project. About 75 people attended tonight’s meeting. Rios said he welcomed the input at this and previous meetings.

“We’ve really had a professional and fruitful dialogue,” he said. “It’s caused us to think about the stuff we’re working on.”

Fairview Hospital is located at 18101 Lorain Ave. in Cleveland’s Kamm’s Corners neighborhood. Fairview Hospital is part of the Cleveland Clinic Health System. The project is being sought to handle growth in the demand for services at Fairview Hospital, combined with a need to replace five aging and increasingly inefficient structures.

Option two has a slightly different layout of the new parking garage which reduces its street frontage on Lorain Avenue (CannonDesign).

Two of the structures are south of Lorain — a seven-level parking garage with more than 700 spaces off Groveland Avenue and an attached, five-story, 80,000-plus-square-foot medical office building including eight examination rooms. Both structures are more than five decades old. They can be demolished only after construction work is done on the new buildings north of Lorain.

But the real trick is how the sequencing will be accomplished north of Lorain. To be demolished north of Lorain are several attached two-story buildings containing the Moll Cancer Center. These structures total about 47,000 square feet and date from the 1980s and 1990s, according to Cuyahoga County property records.

Replacing them will be a new clinical building containing the cancer center and medical offices of roughly five to six stories that will overlook the Rocky River valley. It will measure anywhere from 190,000 to 220,000 square feet, depending the programming and which option is selected, said Angela Smith, senior director of corporate communications at the Cleveland Clinic.

Also, anywhere from one to three parking garages will be constructed, offering 1,000 to 1,400 parking spaces among 450,000 to 600,000 square feet, again depending on the option selected. The project cost could be somewhere north of $150 million. “There’s a huge range with lots of variables in play that can affect costing,” Rios said.

Building the structures next to the valley isn’t just for offering a nice view, he added. It’s also necessary for the sequencing of construction and demolition. The Clinic’s architect, Pittsburgh-based CannonDesign, proposed building the new clinical building between the valley and the old Moll center, with a small corner of the old center razed to allow for the new building to be built.

Option three would build the parking garage in place of West 179th Street, requiring the street to be vacated (CannonDesign).

“We’re going to build this with the Moll Center continuing in operation while construction is going on,” Rios explained. “A little section of it (Moll Center) has to be removed. Then after the cancer center is moved into the new building, we’re going to demolish the (old) cancer center and build the garage. After the garage is opened, then we’re going to demolish the old garage and the old M.O.B. (medical office building).”

There are several variations of how one, two or three parking garages could be built. Not only will they accommodate parking relocated from the Groveland garage, but they will also end the inconvenient and costly practice of shuttling employees to and from 250 parking spaces at the I-X Center more than 4 miles away, Fairview Hospital President Neil Smith told NEOtrans.

Many residents in the surrounding neighborhood didn’t want the Clinic to build new facilities north of Lorain which is zoned for single and multi-family residential with building heights limited to 35 feet. At tonight’s meeting, some of them were pretty upset at seeing the plans. Neighboring resident Doug Baird called it “horrifying.”

“The neighbors in our enclave purchased homes on a quiet residentially zoned street, only to find ourselves facing the prospect of a looming parking garage, expanding cancer center and an office building in our backyards,” Baird said. “The destruction of adjoining homes and the potential encroachment from massive institutional structures are not improving our home values nor enhancing our community experience.”

In 2011, the hospital demolished homes it had acquired on the west side of West 179th Street and built a parking lot in their place. Since then, the hospital has acquired all but one home on the east side of West 179th yet some of the design options show that it is not certain if a structure will be built there. Two options show a park might be added instead.

Option four would change the layout of the medical office building and cancer center and put the parking garage on West 179th Street, requiring the street to be vacated (CannonDesign).

The one house, 3747 W. 179th, not yet purchased by the hospital is owned by a trusteeship of Douglas Damian Janison and his wife Patricia Keeler Janison of Scottsdale, AZ, county property records show. It is rented to George and Terri Gorze Terri who have two special needs children, said George Gorze.

The Gorzes own a company which owns the Thumbs Up Deli at Lorain and West 179th. At various times over the past 40 years, the hospital has sought to acquire both the deli and the house in which the Gorzes live, Gorze told NEOtrans last fall. But Rios said the hospital no longer needs to acquire those properties to move forward with development even though homes on both sides of it were acquired.

Smith said the hospital cannot develop the new Moll Cancer Center and medical office building on the south side of Lorain without causing a major disruption in hospital services. That includes its gynecological and birthing services in a county with infant mortality rates that are three times higher than the national average, he noted.

“We are an extremely busy hospital,” Smith said. “We really can’t decrease our volume of patients. We have to continue to provide a service to the community. It’s amazing what the architects have been able to do to ensure we can continue to do that through (the demolition for and construction of) this project.”

Once the old parking garage and medical office building are demolished, the site will be used as a surface parking lot. Perhaps someday it could be developed but Rios said he’s not thinking that far ahead yet. Besides, he said he likes how it looks on renderings. “Without those structures there, it really opens the area up.”

Option five proposes expanding the garage behind homes on Riveredge Road, adding a garage on Lorain Avenue east of Old Lorain, and constructing a smaller garage next to the West 179th Street (CannonDesign).

Providing more parking in a single structure closer to new and existing clinical buildings will not only be more convenient to visitors, it might also be less costly for the Clinic to operate than the alternatives that involve maintaining multiple parking garages.

Preliminary plans could connect the new clinical building and especially a planned new parking garage via enclosed walkway over Lorain to the existing hospital south of Lorain. The new building, depending on its layout, could range in height from four to six stories. The taller the new clinical building, the less of a footprint it will have and the more structured parking can be accommodated next to it and the existing hospital.

If more structured parking cannot be concentrated there, hospital officials said it will instead have to be spread among as many as three new parking garages. One would be north of Lorain, another by expanding a garage directly behind homes on Riveredge Road and a third new garage on Lorain behind homes on Fernshaw Avenue. One parking garage variation includes putting offices and lobbies on the first two floors of a parking garage right up against Lorain’s sidewalk.

The meeting was organized jointly by Fairview Hospital and West Park Kamm’s Neighborhood Development Corp. Several city officials attended including representatives of the City Planning Commission and Ward 17 Councilman Charles Slife.


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