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Hospital continues work toward office park on Ware Street

This time last year, McDuffie Regional Medical Center was abuzz with talk of funding the vision of what CEO Doug Keir calls a medical office park behind its main building. The hospital had been acquiring permits and coordinating development studies and plans for the 18-acre plot that extends back to Ware Street.

They had hoped to take the development project to the next level with a One Georgia grant, which comes from the state's tobacco settlement money. But the grant fell through last summer.

Now, according to Mr. Keir, things are looking up for this year's round of One Georgia grants. Should the hospital receive the grant this year, it would help offset the cost of transforming the area into a place where doctor's offices could be built in the future.

"We've gotten some information...that indicated some of the things that they will be looking for in future applications for their funding," Mr. Keir said. "It helps us to know that, and we'll be much better prepared. Obviously, if you don't know the rules, you can't play the game very well."

The hospital authority had already decided to use about $20,000 to assist with the estimated $530,000 project which includes the development and selling of building sites.

Selling the sites will cover the expenses the medical center has incurred by preparing the property for development.

"The intent of the hospital authority is to develop the infrastructure -- meaning water, power, roads, curb and gutter -- for one to one and a half acres sites of which there would be 10 to 12 of them," Mr. Keir said. "We would then offer those one to one-and-a-half acre building sites to medical professionals."

The funding through One Georgia, should it become available, would begin movement on the project that has been on hold since last year's grant application was denied.

Mr. Keir and the hospital authority hope the project will help spur economic development in the county by attracting a wide array of medical offices. They also hope that once underway, industry considering a move to McDuffie will look favorably on a growing medical community.

"We think there are opportunities out there that are currently not provided, but people are always looking for office space," Mr. Keir said.

MRMC acquired three properties on Ware Street in the mid-1990s for an expansion project that was to consist of a 30,000-square-foot medical office building.

Hospital officials decided to work toward the medical park after realizing many of the physicians who would have occupied offices in the proposed building had instead chosen to open their offices in town.



Web posted on Thursday, January 27, 2005











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