Penrose-St. Francis Health Services has filed a preliminary plan to build a massive new hospital and medical office campus in northwest Colorado Springs, which would likely solidify the Fillmore Street hill as another major health care hub in the city.
The health care system wants to build a 775,000-square-foot hospital that could rise 11 or 12 stories high and include an emergency room, space for surgery and patient beds, according to documents recently submitted to city planners.
The proposed 51-acre campus also would include 227,000 square feet of medical office space and a 30,000-square-foot central plant building - all on the northeast corner of West Fillmore Street and Centennial Boulevard, the documents show.
Despite being only an early-stage concept plan, the documents offer the first details of Penrose-St. Francis' previously stated ambitions to expand in Colorado Springs. The hospital itself would be more than twice as large as the system's last hospital project, St. Francis Medical Center, which was 350,000 square feet when it opened in 2008 near Woodmen Road and Powers Boulevard.
The campus would also be part of a fast-growing area of health care facilities. A Department of Veterans Affairs clinic, a Planned Parenthood clinic and Mountain View Medical Group offices are near the same intersection, and just to the west on Fillmore Street, a $15.6 million, 125-bed rehabilitation and therapy complex is under construction.
Overall, health care providers and companies in Colorado Springs have expanded northward and eastward in recent years - a trend that Penrose-St. Francis would buck. And a hospital in that area would likely pull more health care entities west, said Peter Scoville, co-founder and co-owner of Colorado Springs Commercial.
"That's a complete game changer," he said.
Before the hospital system can break ground, the city must first approve zoning changes, including one for a high-rise hospital building - though the project could change.
Penrose-St. Francis' Denver-based parent, Centura Health, has not approved money for the project, said Chris Valentine, a Penrose-St. Francis spokesman.
Hospital officials declined to comment further, citing the need to finish a master facilities planning process, he said.
"There are pieces of the process that we have to work through before we can talk about ... anything that's going on," Valentine said. "Nothing is complete. Nothing is official. Nothing has been signed or anything."
In February, real estate sources told The Gazette that Penrose-St. Francis was considering the Fillmore and Centennial intersection for a campus. At the time, however, the hospital system's president and chief executive, Margaret Sabin, said she was considering three sites for a third campus. Though offering no specifics, she said one would be selected by early summer.
The goal would be to build the campus by the end of the decade to accommodate growth over the next two decades. She said the new site would need good access to Interstate 25 and attractive views to promote "a healing environment - one that is conducive to joy, peacefulness and tranquility."
The hospital system is licensed for 522 beds between its two hospitals, Penrose Hospital, 2222 N. Nevada Ave., and St. Francis Medical Center, 6001 E. Woodmen Road. Penrose is 11 stories tall, and St. Francis rises six stories.
On any given night, though, the hospital averages 300 people in its beds, including roughly 200 people at Penrose and 100 people at St. Francis, Valentine said.
Colorado Springs-based RTA Architects, which often works with the health care sector, is listed as an applicant on the planning documents.
The company has worked extensively with Penrose-St. Francis in the past, most notably designing St. Francis Medical Center. It also renovated or remodeled several floors at Penrose Hospital and expanded its emergency room, according to RTA's website.
The hospital system's move comes as Penrose-St. Francis and the city's other major hospital system, Memorial Hospital, pump millions of dollars into expansion and renovation projects.
Memorial Hospital has announced a $40 million project to convert two-person rooms into single occupancy, while also upgrading its equipment.
University of Colorado Health, which leases Memorial Hospital, also recently entered into a partnership with Texas-based Adeptus Health, which operates several First Choice Emergency Room locations across El Paso County. Adeptus is planning to open a 24-bed hospital at North Nevada Avenue and Interstate 25.
The hospital systems' decision to build along the city's northwest corridor would offer residents there another choice for care - though predicting its impact would be difficult without more details on the proposed hospital's services, said Dr. David Richman, president of the El Paso County Medical Society.
"Generally speaking, it sounds like that location would improve some geographic options for people in El Paso County," he said. "And I'm all about options."