Two sites remain in running for Prince George’s regional medical center

July 25, 2013

Two sites remain in the running for a new, $645 million regional hospital in Prince George’s County to replace the financially ailing Prince George’s Hospital Center in Cheverly and create a full-service medical campus.

The board of Dimensions Healthcare System, which oversees county-owned medical facilities, voted unanimously Thursday to send letters to Maryland health officials endorsing Largo Town Center and the shuttered Landover Mall as possible locations for the hospital.

The move buys officials a little more time to negotiate with representatives of the sites. The board’s chairman, C. Philip Nichols Jr., said he expects a final decision by September.

Plans call for the 259-bed hospital to be part of a full-service medical complex and trauma center, offering high-end specialities and general care. There would be offices for private practices, a parking garage and possibly classrooms for medical professionals who also might train at nearby Prince George’s Community College in Largo. The hospital, expected to open in 2017 as part of the University of Maryland Medical System, would serve Prince George’s and Southern Maryland.

Officials hope the medical complex will attract paying patients with health insurance and provide more primary care to residents of the majority-minority county.

Studies show that Prince George’s residents suffer disproportionately from diabetes, heart disease and obesity, and there is a shortage of primary-care medical practices.

The Dimensions board acted on recommendations from a search committee whose members include representatives from the University of Maryland Medical System, Prince George’s County and the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Before choosing Landover Mall and Largo Town Center, the search committee examined properties around the Morgan Boulevard Metro station and Woodmore Towne Center shopping center, said Bradford L. Seamon, a Dimensions board member, search committee member and top aide to County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D). But the committee rejected those sites because of their locations and because they had multiple owners, making it difficult to assemble enough land.

The committee’s deliberations are not open to the public.

Now the search committee is looking into cost, availability, the potential for future development, and whether roads, sidewalks and other infrastructure would be needed, he said.

“We are still continuing to negotiate, and we want to negotiate with two sites to come up with the best deal. At this point, I don’t want to talk numbers,” Seamon told the board.

Although officials of the University of Maryland Medical System had urged the search committee to find at least 100 acres, Seamon said committee members now believe that the hospital itself could be built on four or five acres of a 25-acre medical campus.

The two sites in contention each have advantages, Seamon said. The Largo site, at the Boulevard at Capital Centre, is on 70 acres of county-owned land next to a Metro station and close to the Capital Beltway.

There is an additional 30 acres in adjacent parcels owned by two private developers.

The 88-acre Landover Mall site is nearly vacant — only a Sears store remains. It is close to the Capital Beltway and about 11 / 3 miles from the Largo Town Center Metro station. Landover Mall is owned by the Lerner family, which also owns the Washington Nationals baseball team.

Cheryl Cort of the Coalition for Smarter Growth is pushing for Largo Town Center but said Landover Mall is ripe for redevelopment.

“It is crying out for something to happen at the mall,” she said. “But something as important as the hospital should not be so far from transit.”

Douglas M. Duncan, the former Montgomery County executive who is representing the Lerners, declined to comment.

Eventually, the University of Maryland Medical System is expected to take over Dimensions Healthcare but will not bear any of the costs.

Plans call for a new company — New Dimensions — to float $450 million in bonds, with its $200 million debt service paid by the state. Separately, Prince George’s would float $200 million in bonds.

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