By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Now that its purchase and sales agreement has been finalized with the city, Bristol Hospital is looking towards the future at Centre Square.
Currently, the hospital is wrapping up its contract with the developer, Rendina, for the planned three-story ambulatory care center on the corners of Main Street and Riverside Avenue.
Bristol Hospital’s legal team has been in contact with Rendina’s legal team, said Tiffany Fernandez, the project lead for the site.
“An anchor institution to this community, it is an honor that Bristol Hospital has the opportunity to place a flagship building in Centre Square,” said Fernandez.
“We’re excited that the hospital can be a part of the rebirth of downtown,” said John Leone, the chairman of Bristol Hospital’s Board of Directors.
“It should be a catalyst for the rest of the property once it’s complete.”
A blend of traditional urban design and a modern state-of-the-art medical facility, the ambulatory care center is expected be between 55,000 and 60,000 square feet, according to Rendina. The building also will use glass to maximize natural light in waiting rooms and commons areas, and a street level entrance on the corner will provide a sense of arrival. The goal is to offer a comprehensive patient experience that addresses every part of a patient’s visit, including comfort and ease of access.
The ambulatory care center is expected to break ground towards the end of the year.
“The exterior will have the look and feel the community of Bristol desires for Centre Square,” said Fernandez. “Bristol Hospital is committed to creating a building that our organization and community can be proud of.”
“It should blend in with the rest of the downtown area,” added Leone.
A nationally-recognized leader in medical office development for nearly 30 years, Rendina has developed over 7 million square feet of buildings throughout the country. Recently, Rendina worked with RWJBarnabas Health to develop an 80,000 square foot, outpatient facility, which is expected to open this summer in Bayonne, N.J. Equipped with a 24/7 emergency department, a retail pharmacy, and a full diagnostic imaging center, the project will provide services for primary care, physical therapy and women’s health.
The project also served as a downtown redevelopment project for Bayonne.
Steve Barry, the executive vice president of business and development for Rendina, said this project serves as a relevant example of how Rendina’s ability to work with a healthcare system and a city to “successfully execute,” a downtown project like the one Bristol Hospital has pursued.
“We worked with the local municipality and the health system to redevelop nearly an entire city block, and develop an outpatient facility there that met the objectives of the hospital, but also serve the growing needs of the community,” said Barry, adding how Rendina is excited to see Bristol Hospital’s downtown project move forward. “We have specific, relevant experience in an urban setting.”
Fernandez said Rendina’s portfolio demonstrated the developer’s ability to accommodate the needs of clients and the community. Bristol Hospital announced its decision to bring Rendina on board in January after reviewing proposals from eight potential developers.
“They have been integral in our purchase and sale approval from the city and are aware of the history and importance of this parcel,” said Fernandez.
“We were looking at developers from all over the country,” added Leone. “The key to it is someone who has experience in healthcare facilities, and that’s what we wanted.”
When he first began working with Rendina, Bristol Development Authority Executive Director Justin Malley said it was clear that the developer already knew a lot about the city’s partnership with planning consultant Milone & MacBroom, which recently unveiled the preliminary master plan for Centre Square.
The culmination of a months-long planning process conducted by the BDA and Milone & MacBroom, the master plan represents the community’s division for future development at Centre Square while serving as a marketing tool for future developers.
The planning process involved a detailed look at the existing conditions of downtown Bristol, as well as a community “visioning” survey and two outreach events that gathered public input on future aspirations for Centre Square.
“Rendina has taken that very seriously,” said Malley, adding that Rendina has been open and accessible. “They really did study up on Bristol and the Centre Square site, and what Bristol is looking for on the site. That’s super impressive.”
While Bristol Hospital and the city serve as important stakeholders of the downtown project, said Barry, Rendina also recognized the community as a stakeholder.
“We did study those surveys, and really appreciated what the Bristol community was looking for in terms of the look and feel of what the downtown redevelopment parcel should be,” said Barry. “We’re trying to incorporate those thoughts and elements into our design wherever possible.”
Malley added that he knows Rendina will go “above and beyond” to look at what type of building would fit best within the city’s current environment, playing off of the current buildings downtown.
“We’re happy to be working with Bristol Hospital and Rendina. We’re moving forward,” said Malley.
Currently, Milone & MacBroom is compiling community feedback on the preliminary master plan from the Centre Square project website, bristolcentresquare.com/.
The final master plan is expected to be released later this spring.
“Any feedback is good,” said Malley. “We’re doing it for the community.”