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Grosse Pointe City

Beaumont looks to add parking this spring

October 30, 2013

GROSSE POINTE CITY — A two-level parking deck on Notre Dame — with one of the levels being below ground and the second being at grade — is among the most immediate plans for renovation and expansion at Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe.

Hospital officials — who have made their desire for additional on-site parking clear to City leaders in recent years — outlined the latest version of their master plan for the hospital — at Cadieux and Jefferson — during an Oct. 21 City Council meeting. As Mayor Dale Scrace noted from the outset, this was simply an informational presentation, with no action being taken by the council.

The City’s own most recent master plan update, approved last November, included a hospital district for the Beaumont campus. But the hospital has had a sometimes contentious relationship with its residential neighbors, who’ve said they’ve experienced littering, noise, increased traffic, lack of parking and other problems due to their proximity to the hospital.

As the hospital gears up for what it hopes will be improvements to its campus, its representatives said they’ve been trying to resolve these issues with their neighbors, holding a series of meetings over the last year to address questions and concerns from those who live nearby. Michael Hoeflein, the program leader for real estate development and planning for Beaumont Health System, said they’ve created smoking shelters, increased security on streets around the hospital, added more trash sweeps on and around hospital property, tried to reduce on-site traffic and made other changes to improve conditions for local residents.

“It’s my hope we have (shown) we take our neighbors’ feedback seriously,” Hoeflein said.

He said attendance at these meetings has averaged about eight to 12 residents.

“It’s been disappointing, I think — the turnout,” said Dr. Donna Hoban, physician-in-chief of Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe.

City officials, including Scrace, praised Beaumont leaders for “the hard work they’ve done with the community” and with City administrators.

“We’ve worked with our neighbors,” said Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe President Rick Swaine of the modified plans. “We’ve been working with the City.”

The master plan Hoeflein outlined includes four phases — the first two of which would tackle the most pressing needs, and the final two of which were only possibilities if the hospital developed more in the future.

With 125 staff members now parking off-site and being shuttled to Beaumont, Hoeflein said the most urgent need is to create more parking at the hospital, which is why that’s the focus of the first phase. The new parking structure — which would likely start construction next spring — would add another 420 spaces and would be located mostly along Notre Dame to Jefferson, he said. The new surface parking — which would be screened by a retaining wall and landscaping — would be “almost identical to the existing deck,” Hoeflein said.

Notre Dame resident Judith LeBeau expressed reservations about the new parking deck, saying that previous plans only mentioned a surface parking lot adjacent to her street. Hoeflein said the “deck” proposal they’re now calling for has been designed to “minimize the impact on the community” by featuring the “upper” level at grade. He said they’re proposing this now so that they can address parking needs immediately and not have to build additional parking in that portion of the property in the future.

“The intent is that … you almost wouldn’t be able to see it,” Hoeflein said of the deck. He said it likely would take about six-eight months to demolish hospital-owned homes on Notre Dame and relocate the historical Cadieux Farmhouse, and then build the new parking.

Phase one also would include creation of a recessed loading dock and closure of the Notre Dame entrance to the hospital campus.

“I think everyone liked the idea of closing off Notre Dame (to hospital traffic) and pushing (that) traffic onto Jefferson,” Swaine said.

The second phase — tentatively slated for construction in 2015 — would include the construction of a new, two-story outpatient service building next to the hospital on Cadieux. Hoeflein said the building — which would be constructed by developers and owned by doctors — would be about 20,000 square feet per floor, with physician offices on the second story. Because it would be adjacent to the hospital itself, the proposal calls for a new combined lobby for the main hospital and this building. The building would occupy some of the surface parking currently offered in a lot in that area, but the plan shows that a lot next to the building would still house 116 parking spaces. This building would free up 24 inpatient beds in the main hospital, Hoeflein said. At press time, he said Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe had 280 licensed beds.

As to what services might be offered in the outpatient building, Hoeflein said by email that he couldn’t comment on that because it “relates to a business strategy that is still being developed.”

A possible third or fourth phase could include construction, in the center of the hospital campus, of a patient tower that Hoeflein said could be as many as four stories tall — three stories on one side, four on the other — that would be connected to the main hospital with a bridge.

He said phases three and four still haven’t been fully developed.

“We haven’t been able to look far enough ahead to determine how big the (tower) building should be,” Hoeflein said.

Two new, adjacent parking areas — with upper and lower levels that Hoeflein said might be partially underground, similar to what’s being proposed for the Notre Dame side in the first phase — would create 500 parking spaces for the central and west portions of the hospital property, along Cadieux and Jefferson. The patient tower and new parking decks would occupy the portion of the hospital campus that currently features the central parking deck and a parking lot.

“It seems like it would fit the community well, and it doesn’t appear to be a hulking add-on that would be a tremendous (burden) to the neighborhood,” City Council member Christopher Walsh said of the possible patient tower.

LeBeau, for one, doesn’t agree.

“This is my neighborhood, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s going to be ruined,” said the longtime Notre Dame resident, who will now be facing the hospital campus instead of the homes that have been across the street from her for years.

City Manager Pete Dame said a next step for the City would be the crafting of language regulating development in the hospital zoning district.

City Planner John Jackson, of McKenna Associates, said that once hospital officials come to the City for site-plan and special-use approval, they’ll need to perform traffic studies to make sure that the necessary steps are taken to offset the increase in traffic off of Jefferson and Cadieux.

Dame said City and hospital officials likely would be meeting to talk about the plans with neighbors before it comes to the council for a vote.

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