The Palm Coast City Council on Tuesday cleared the way for a 100-bed, 155,000-square-foot, four-story AdventHealth hospital on 11 acres along Palm Coast Parkway, on land equidistant from Pine Lakes Parkway to the west and Belle Terre Parkway to the east. The council was required to approve a zoning change to allow for certain exceptions.
Wally de Aquino, the hospital’s chief operating officer, said he’s projecting an initial 400 to 450 jobs at the hospital initially, and up to 700 to 750 jobs when the medical office building is completed.
The hospital will be built in phase one of the project. A two-story, 30,000 square-foot medical office building will be built in phase 2. The area is brimming with new development, with a Wendy’s about to open, a Sherwin Williams paint store and an O’Reilly’s store that opened relatively recently, and a Goodwill store that recently submitted a site plan application to the city.
The area was zoned general commercial in a Palm Coast overlay district that sets a 50-foot building height limit. The hospital will be just under 80 feet, which was among the reasons requiring regulatory changes. The hospital’s impact on the economy was cited as a rationale justifying the council departures from existing city regulations, though the council’s unanimous vote approving the project was never in doubt. The city’s planning board previously recommended approval in a 7-0 vote.
The hospital will be similar to its campus along State Road 100, with an emergency department, a chapel, a gift shop, dining facilities, an outpatient surgery center (including radiology, oncology, diabetes, pain management, surgery and/or rehabilitation center), a family pediatric clinic, a wellness center, home health care services provided to AdventHealth patients, and a therapy center, among other services. The facility will also have a helipad.
“The hospital would be located 300 feet from the nearest residential home to the north, and about 500 feet from the nearest residential home to the south,” City Planner Bill Hoover said. AdventHealth will grant the city $7,000 to its Tree Bank Fund.
“I would just like to thank AdventHealth for continuing to be a tremendous community partner,” Council member Nick Klufas said when the regulatory item was first presented to the council two weeks ago. (Land-use decisions require two readings.) “Everything that the city and I’ve experienced through my tenure on the council, Adventhealth has always been a tremendous partner through the thick and thin, and I’m appreciative that you’ve decided to invest in our community, and that you’re going to be able to bring this level of jobs and also that carry with it that level of salary that is critical for the trajectory and future growth of Palm Coast.”
No one from the public addressed the item on Tuesday, though two weeks ago a resident asked a perennial question about hospitals in the county: will it have a maternity ward? But Advent executives have said for many years that the county and the city don;t yet have the population base that would warrant a maternity ward, while the city’s population continues to grow especially among people 65 and over–a demographic that justifies an additional hospital, but not a maternity ward. Milissa Holland, the mayor at the time, reiterated the demographic explanation. “That does not mean that that would not be something that in future they would provide,” she said, but for now, “The data does not support that.”
Holland added: “AdventHealth is not just making an investment in this community for greater access to health care. This is an over $100 million investment. They’re making an investment in people.” Addressing de Aquino, Holland added: “I really want to take a moment and thank you for the tremendous job that you also provided during Covid-19, are still currently providing. Your health care workers work day and night, so we always want to say thank you and appreciate them, because it was an extraordinary moment, and to watch what they had to go through and endure was incredible.” Holland noted AdventHealth’s continuing partnerships with the school system’s flagship programs and with the two universities setting up satellite campuses in Town Center–the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University.On Tuesday, Council member Eddie Branquinho made the motion to approve the rezoning, remembering his late son. “It’s very special to me and I’ll make that in my son’s name if I’m allowed. Please make that motion to approve,” he said. There were no objections, and the motion passed unanimously.