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Published on July 30, 2015

St. Vincent’s attracting others to Clay?

By Mike Ford, Clay Today

Having broken ground for expansion in recent months, the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Clay County is not only growing, but attracting other medical providers. One company is looking in to developing adjacent medical facilities and at least one more is considering the same.

Because the area targeted for development includes wetlands, developers are required to obtain permits through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Under the Clean Water Act, the federal government places these permits under the Corps’ jurisdiction. Brooks Rehabilitation is seeking a permit to develop a campus near the northwest corner of the hospital at Old Jennings Road and Discovery Drive. Brooks is in the process of investigating what it would cost to develop the property before purchasing it.

"We have it under contract and there is a due diligence period that allows us to investigate the wetlands. Applying for the permit is one of the steps we’re taking to fully understand the wetlands, what it would take to develop the property and what it would cost us," said Doug Baer, chief executive officer at Brooks Rehab. "We like the area and would like to acquire it; we’re trying to get in a position where we might develop it one day."

Baer referred to the scope of the application as a master plan based on the full range of services Brooks offers. He stressed that from page 1

Brooks has no immediate plan for developing on the property but is taking steps to prepare for plans it may decide to undertake in the future.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Senior Project Manager Mark Evans explains what the proposal includes and he thinks the growth is attributable to the hospital’s presence.

"In my opinion, it’s being proposed there because of the St. Vincent’s complex. Brooks flat-out told me they want to augment and supplement services offered at St. Vincent’s with a memory care facility for those with Alzheimer’s and similar conditions, an assisted living facility, a skilled nursing facility, offices and a family transitional housing facility for out of town family members of those in one of the facilities," Evans said.

The area’s expanding medical infra- structure is attracting others who are exploring options and looking to make money off the land.

"We also granted a permit to Brannan Field Properties Inc., located in Jacksonville, for a project called Branan Field Assisted Living and I just had a pre-permit meeting with another company that was asking about property across the street from the hospital, but because there is no permit in place, we don’t even keep records that I could give their name," Evans said.

Branan Field Properties is just one of the companies of Southcoast Capital Management, a real estate investment company in Jacksonville which owns the property. Asset Manager Syd Gervin said they have no plan to develop any medical facility, but needed to list a reason in seeking a wetlands permit. With the permit in place, it may be easier for his company to sell the property to another company that may want to build a nursing home on it.

The Brooks Rehab permit has not been issued. Evans said Brooks Rehab has to get paperwork lined up from the state to make sure the fill material they may use doesn’t effect water quality.

Developers are required to get such permits from either the Florida Department of Environmental Protection or the St. Johns River Water Management District. Officials with both DEP and the water management district said Brooks Rehabilitationhas not filed permits for the Oakleaf site.

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