Planning continues on hospital’s proposal for downtown project

By LISA CAPOBIANCO
STAFF WRITER
Bristol Hospital’s downtown project proposal is moving full steam ahead.
As its due diligence period continues, the hospital is working with architects and a project manager on a site plan downtown. Last December, the city approved a letter of intent submitted by Bristol Hospital to build a 100,000 square foot medical office building on the corners of Riverside Avenue and Main Street, which will be taxable property. The hospital plans to combine its medical offices that are leased throughout Bristol and other towns into the proposed medical office building, which will not require any public financing. The project also is expected to bring more jobs to Bristol.
Now that the Bristol Downtown Development Corporation has been dissolved, the Bristol Development Authority’s Downtown Committee has been actively involved in the downtown redevelopment process. The committee held a special meeting early last month, when Kurt Barwis, president and CEO of Bristol Hospital, provided an update on where the non-profit currently stands on the project proposal.
“They need to determine what they need for the site—what would work for them,” said Justin Malley, executive director of the BDA. “By the downtown committee in March, I think we’ll have at least some preliminary site ideas of what they’re looking at.”
On the city side, Malley said attorneys are working on a purchase agreement that would be executed between the city and the hospital.
The city also is working with the hospital to investigate the idea of structured parking, which will be critical for the project, said Malley last Monday during the BDA Board meeting.
“We have zoning regulations that sort of determine how parking can be done on our downtown property,” said Malley.
BDA Board Vice Chairman Howard Schmelder said the proposed medical office building is going to be a “first rate” building.
“It’s obvious that the hospital is really putting the pedal to the medal,” said Schmelder. “They’re doing everything that’s required of them in the letter of intent.”
Last November, Renaissance Downtowns, the former preferred developer downtown ended its contract with the city of Bristol. Renaissance proposal called for a four story, mixed-use building fronting Main Street and Riverside Avenue, along with 100 market rate housing units as well as over 20,000 square feet of retail space and a public Piazza.
One idea Malley said he shared during the downtown committee meeting was the importance of speaking with small business owners about the possibility of building downtown.
These business owners may want to give back to the community or may have a dream facility that they have not been able to attain, said Malley.
“We need to be talking to those folks too—the smaller entities about the possibility of building downtown, and that has started,” said Malley.  Bristol_logo_NEW