Preliminary plans for a medical complex in Newell Creek were approved at the last Mentor Planning Commission meeting, but it appeared that the decision might go either way prior to the vote.
Everett Jones of Hplex Solutions, a Columbus-based healthcare development and property management company, presented a proposal on Dec. 20 to subdivide 10 acres at 8140 Norton Parkway into three parts for three medical buildings.
The project includes a two-story 40,000-square-foot building on one sublot, totaling about 4.4 acres, and indications of a 5,500-square-foot building on another sublot and a 10,000-square-foot building on the third.
A trip-generation study indicated that one of the buildings would be 15,000 square feet, but Jones said it was to show that the complex would be well within parking and traffic parameters. A private road is planned to access the third parcel.
The 40,000-square-foot building — the only one for which a formal plan has been submitted so far — will partially be occupied by Macy Family Dentistry, relocating from the Lake Health Mentor Campus at 9485 Mentor Ave.
The estimated 10,000-square-foot office would be for the relocated surgery center of Dr. Greg Eippert, who, along with his brother, would be investors and tenants in the 40,000-square-foot structure. His office also currently is at 9485 Mentor Ave.
The 5,500-square-foot building would be home to Great Lakes Jaw & Implant Surgery Center, now at 4230 State Route 306, Willoughby.
“We’ve done over 2 million square feet of properties, medical office buildings, hospitals, etc., and certainly anything that staff recommends or anything that is required — building codes and standards or state building codes — we will comply with,” Jones said.
However, Mentor Law Director Joseph Szeman suggested that approving the subdivision might be premature without more detail about the other two buildings, and investigation into access rights and the disposition of a gas well on site.
“There are a lot of moving pieces, obviously, in a development of this nature, so we want to make sure we have a good feel for all of the legal interests that are at play here, the mineral rights being one that pops out,” he said.
Jones said the well isn’t active and is in bankruptcy. He said more detailed information was provided with the trip generation results and that he was unaware that more was required at this stage. He said the other projects weren’t as far along.
Commission Chairman William Snow asked what hardship would be caused if only the initial lot split was approved.
Jones said it wouldn’t be economically viable.
Szeman alluded to problems the city has run into in the past.
“Obviously, the gentleman doesn’t see all the things that go wrong that we see, but financing falls apart, infrastructure doesn’t get constructed,” he said. “We need to deal today with some of the ‘what ifs’ that no one can control, and it doesn’t mean that everyone isn’t working toward a successful project in accordance with what your vision is for it. But again, we always seem to deal with the problems that develop later on and we try to head those off at the pass, so to speak, but if the planning commission is comfortable moving forward that’s your judgment. It’s a little unusual, but, again, that’s your judgment.”
Commission member Geoffrey Varga asked whether abutting property owners, including Cleveland Clinic, were aware of potential access issues, adding that putting buildings on the property would eliminate the chance of future access.
“Have we addressed how all this property is affected by what they want to do?” Varga said. “If we go ahead, are we creating other problems with this adjacent property that we don’t have solutions for.”
Planning Director Kathy Mitchell responded, “It’s already cut off. … To Mr. Szeman’s point, there may be some access/easement rights.”
Jones emphasized the effort and preparation that has been done to this point.
“It’s being portrayed that we have not thought about this,” he said. “We’ve not only thought about it, we have planned this thing for months and how to bring this thing forward to the city.”
Snow then asked for a motion and, when no one spoke up immediately, he appeared prepared to move on with the meeting. However, Varga then made a motion for approval. The subdivision was supported unanimously, as was the preliminary site plan.
Jones expressed his appreciation.
“We’re looking forward to working with the city of Mentor,” he said. “We’re excited about this project.”
He hopes to present final plans within a few months and to begin the project in April.
The 10 acre site is the last piece of the 380-acre former David Z. Norton estate to be purchased for development. The family announced plans to sell the estate for development in 1998.