Vote clears way for hospital to expand campus

Schneck Medical Center will break ground Tuesday on a $44 million project to add a parking garage and a new medical office building to the Seymour hospital’s campus.

During a special meeting Monday, the Seymour Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously approved the hospital’s requests to vary from the city’s zoning rules to allow the expansion to be built.

The first request changes the zoning of the property at 411 W. Tipton St. from C-2 to C-3 because C-2 does not allow for a parking garage.

Debbie Mann, Schneck’s vice president of finance and chief financial officer, said the hospital plans to hire 40 new health care providers, including physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners, in the next few years and will need the additional parking for their patients.

Currently, the visitor parking lot has about 100 spaces. The parking garage will have 384 spaces, and there will be additional staff parking created near the garage for an overall increase of 427 spaces, said Rick Rush with arcDESIGN in Indianapolis.

The garage will be constructed where the visitor parking lot currently is, to the north of the existing Jackson Medical Building and will be directly attached to the new 80,000-square-foot medical office building and the Jackson Medical Building.

As a result of the project, Pine Street, which currently allows motorists to drive south from Tipton to Brown Street, will be closed off to create additional parking.

Any other location for the garage would have required the hospital to purchase additional property off-site, delaying the project, and forced patients to walk a longer distance to their appointments, Rush said.

Patients will be able to access the new medical office building from all five floors of the parking garage, he said.

Mann said the parking garage, the city’s first, will be free and open during the hours physicians are seeing patients. After hours, there will be a gate for security that still will allow visitors in and out.

Building Commissioner Jeremy Gray said the way the garage is designed, it doesn’t even look like a parking garage.

“I don’t think it’s adverse to the city’s master plan,” he said.

The other variances allow the garage setback to be 35 feet from Tipton Street instead of the required 40 feet. There also are two conference rooms that will come off of the face of the new medical office building that will be about 20 feet from Tipton, but they rise above the street by 20 feet and have two columns coming down that sit 26 feet from the street.

Mann said the medical building expansion has been designed to be aesthetically pleasing and is similar in height to the hospital’s 2007 addition.

The BZA also approved a height variance of 85 feet for the new construction. The city’s zoning regulations limit building heights to 45 feet.

Landscaping in front of the parking garage and medical office building will provide a buffer between the buildings and the street, Rush said.

There will be additional green spaces created as part of the project, and a small rain garden and oversized drainage pipes will be added onto the property to help handle stormwater, Rush added.

It won’t solve all drainage issues in the area, but it will help, Rush said.