Desire for field leads to second public session

The second in a series of meetings regarding the development of a 7.8-acre pasture across from Carson-Tahoe Hospital is tonight.

Carson-Tahoe Hospital and owners of the pasture just north of the hospital on Mountain Street are sponsoring the public meeting at the Brewery Arts Center.

The hospital has hired land planning consultant George L. Szabo to gather comments on the project, and will be discussing the feasibility and plans for developing the parcel, owned by the Andersen family.

For years, residents have enjoyed the lush pasture, which opens to a view of Kings Canyon and the Sierra. Now, owner Ira "Andy" Andersen has offered to either lease back or sell this parcel to the hospital.

Initial development proposals by Szabo and Associates included a 50-foot buffer area with a berm, complete with walking or bike trails as well as about 100,000 square feet of medical use space divided among four buildings. The development would also require the creation of between 450 and 500 parking spaces to accommodate the medical offices.

Buildings of this size would generate about 4,500 car trips per day - more than doubling Mountain Streets' present load of about 3,700 per day in that area, according to Carson City's Development Services Director Andy Burnham.

Carson-Tahoe Hospital's chief executive officer Steve Smith said the "super block," about 20 acres bordered by Fleischmann, Mountain, Minnesota and Washington streets, will meet the hospitals' needs for the next five years, but probably not much longer.

He sees development of the parcel - whether by the hospital or other interests - as inevitable.

"Residents want it (Andersen Field) to remain a pasture, but it won't," Smith said, noting the area could contain up to 40 houses with through streets, no buffers, and buildings taller than anything the hospital is proposing.

The hospital's customer base reaches as far south as Bishop, Calif. The population growth in the immediate area will ultimately force the hospital to expand to meet that need, and development to the west is more cost-effective because real estate is less expensive, Smith said.

"If we develop everything on the super block, we will need a parking structure shortly," Smith said, noting a three-tier parking structure will cost $5 million to $6 million, or between $5,000 and $10,000 per space. Potential locations for this three-story structure include the parking lot just east of hospital, or to the south.

Smith said he heard the argument that property values would decrease if the hospital moves into the Andersen field, but he said proximity to the hospital will increase values, and decrease only if the hospital leaves.

Smith also said he realizes that cost is not the only consideration.

"If this is going to be an uphill struggle for the hospital, we won't do it," he said, noting that if the whole community is opposed to the development, the hospital would drop the proposal.

He encouraged everyone interested to go to the meeting, speak freely, and come up with ideas.

What: Neighborhood meeting to discuss the possible expansion of the Carson-Tahoe Hospital Health Care Campus to Andersen Field

When: Today, 6:30 p.m.

Where: Brewery Arts Center, 449 W. King St., Carson City

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