New $106M Grand Blanc Retirement Village Leads Expansion Plan for Genesys Regional Medical Center
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
By Eric Dresden
A proposal to bring a new $106-million retirement community that would create 260 jobs is the first in a series of planned projects that could potentially expand Genesys Health Park into a retail and wellness hub in Genesee County.
A developer expects to break ground on the retirement facility in April, while several other proposed projects -- some led by Genesys, and some by private developers -- are expected to follow over the next five years, according to a long-term economic development plan laid out by Genesys Regional Medical Center and its regional partners.
The expansions at Genesys Health Park in Grand Blanc, as well as projects already underway in downtown Flint, would add up to nearly $500 million in potential investments over the next decade, according to the plan.
"You're going to see dirt moving in the next six months on our campus," Genesys President and CEO Betsy Aderholdt said. "We really do bring some things that are different, cutting edge and innovative."
The proposed projects include updating and expanding the Genesys Athletic Club and creating a research and development park at Genesys Health Park.
Genesys has already opened a clinic in downtown Flint, and is in the process of renovating the old International Institute of Flint into a new chronic-care facility for senior citizens, known as PACE, Program of all-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.
As part of its expansion, Genesys officials said they're relying on an extension of Dort Highway along the west end of the campus.
If all the projects come to fruition, an economic study commissioned by Genesys and performed by the Anderson Economic Group estimates that over 4,000 full-time jobs would be created directly or indirectly, in addition to thousands of construction jobs, officials said.
"Historically our industry has been very hospital-centric, this is about getting ahead of that and focusing on staying healthy and well," Aderholdt said. "If we really wanted to be working toward the health of the community 25 years in the future, what kind of things do we need to be working on today?"
Here are some of the details outlined in the strategic plan shared by Genesys and its partners:
The first building in Genesys' timeline is a senior citizen retirement village in the southwest corner of the Genesys Health Park and would feature skilled nursing, memory care, independent living and assisted living.
Plans call for the construction to begin on the 128-bed skilled nursing facility -- the first phase of the plan -- in April 2015. Construction is expected to be completed by June 2016.
Genesys would lease the 12-acre parcel of land to the partnership of the WellBridge Group and Burton-Katzman, LLC, a Bingham Farms-based company, which would develop, own and operate the facility.
"It starts with what the community should be, not always with what it is now," said Peter Burton, of Burton-Katzman, adding that Genesys' expansion plan for the health park shows "far-sightedness."
An assisted living facility would follow within one to two years after the skilled nursing facility and within two to three years of the skilled nurse facility completion, the expectation is to complete an independent living facility.
"You're going to hear a consistent theme of dirt moving on the campus in the spring," Burton said.
While Genesys doesn't technically own the building, it will lease the ground and chose a partner to take discharges from Genesys facilities to be "very strategically aligned," according to Aderholdt.
Genesys has proposed establishing a veterans retirement home at Genesys Health Park -- a proposal that would first require a successful bid on the project through the federal Veterans Administration.
Nick Evans, vice president for business development at Genesys, said Michigan ranks 48 out of 53 entities in dollars spent per veteran. He added that the largest retirement home in the state is in Grand Rapids, and can house 500 people – with four people to a room.
That model is outdated, and a retirement home is needed for Flint- and Detroit-area veterans, he said.
With recent spotlights shown on VA health care and hospitals, he said discussions have started.
"We really can do better," he said. "It's encouraged us to enter into a dialogue with the state."
Although there is no agreement with the Veterans Administration, Genesys hopes to learn more this spring when the process is announced for requests for proposals.
In the case that the Genesys is approved, the medical center would lease the ground to the VA, who would own the building and have a single administrative employee. Genesys would then hire staff and handle operations, according to the plan.
Genesys Athletic Club
Genesys wants to transform the Genesys Athletic Club into a medical-based wellness center that would combine its expertise in clinical services with community health.
Highlights would include an indoor turf field that would make it a "state-of-the-art" sport and wellness facility, the plan says.
Evans said the 6,500 members at the facility bring in about $7 million annually, although there is a "very narrow" profit margin, he said.
But with an expanded role, Genesys hopes to maintain relationships with the Crim Foundation, Grand Blanc Schools as well as the Genesee Intermediate School District to help its role in the community, Evans said.
For expansions at the athletic center, Genesys has partnered 50-50 with The Granger Group, of Wyoming, Mich.
Greg Markvluwer, senior vice president of corporate finance for The Granger Group, said the goal is to integrate the facility completely between an athletic and rehab facility as well as use kitchens as a means to focus on eating better for wellness programs.
"At the end of the day, how do you bring down the cost of health care?" Markvluwer said. "Leveraging (public-private relationships) does this."
But beyond that, Evans said indoor soccer and lacrosse fields are in demand throughout the state, with many local students and athletics having to travel to Wixom or Pontiac.
"If a family doesn't have to drive to Wixom, (there's) an economic lift," Evans said.
Dort Highway extension
The Dort Highway connector project is a "critically important" part to all of the updates, Aderholdt said.
The extension would create a four-lane connector from the Dort Highway entrance in Grand Blanc and continue the road to Baldwin Road, along the west side of the Genesys Health Park. Grand Blanc Township Manager Keith Edwards said there are continual congestion issues at Holly Road and I-75 and this can help alleviate that.
"The point is to provide access," Edwards said. "This has the most significant job potential in the township."
State Sen. David Robertson, R-Grand Blanc Township., said he was approached about the project in 2011 and called it one of his highest priorities.
"This is clearly, from my perspective, the linchpin for regional development," he said.
State Rep. Joseph Graves, R-Argentine Township, said after looking at the plan he was sold and began helping the push for the extension and
"It was a good package that was put together and it sold itself," Graves said. "This entire region will benefit from it."
The project is expected to be completed by about 2017 and will use a donation of 19.38 acres from Genesys.
The state of Michigan awarded the project $5.6 million
While Meijer owns property just to the south of Genesys, the medical center is also planning to develop a retail area on the northwest corner of the roads.
The company said that could mean retail, hotels and restaurants that would complement the hospital, senior village, athletic center and research and development corridor.
Genesys expects some of the projects could begin as soon as the spring of 2015.
Jet Kilmer, president of the Grand Blanc Chamber of Commerce, said all the plans by Genesys shows a continued interest in the Grand Blanc-area.
"People are looking at real estate and looking at Grand Blanc," she said, adding the Genesys plan could mean a "domino effect" for the area.
And Edwards said Grand Blanc Township is beginning to see a steady increase in housing values and inquiries for property in the area.
"It's starting to pick up again," he said.
Research and Development
The northern part of the Genesys Health Park that will run near the Dort Highway extension, plans call for a Life Sciences Research and Development Institute.
The research center would be built similarly to the senior village, with Genesys owning the land and leasing it to any company that comes in.
"We're excited to lead change," Evans said. "Not to own change."
Aderholdt said research and development has the potential for 4,000 long-term, high-paying jobs.
Because of the other additions, it makes sense to support those efforts as well as "eds and meds" by aligning with the University of Michigan-Flint, Michigan State University and other local higher education partners.
"Our priority is to create jobs," she said.
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