Doctors want to buy Gilcher building, turn it into surgery center

April 13, 2004|LIZ MAPLES

A group of local doctors announced intentions Monday to buy the old Gilcher Hotel and spend $5 million to transform it into an outpatient surgery center.

They also have agreed to lease 250 spaces in a proposed parking garage on Third and Walnut streets, and city commissioners agreed to work with the doctors to redesign the garage to fit their needs.

The center, to be called Central Kentucky Surgery Center, would handle the kinds of out-patient surgeries and procedures that now account for about 75 percent those performed in Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center's operating rooms.

The hospital would then have the capacity to recruit surgeons to perform more advanced operations, said Dr. Tom Serey, one of the participating physicians.


The doctors have signed a conditional contract with Third Street Development Corp. for the historic hotel. It is expected to be finalized in 90 days. The money from the sale - the amount won't be public record until the deal is done - will be used to pay off TSDC debt, said Janet Hamner, president of the corporation. Anything left over would be used to renovate the Hub building, an empty department store connected to the Gilcher, to complete the redevelopment of the complex.

She declined to say how much had been spent on the property, which was purchased with public funds in the form of a state grant passed through the city of Danville.

Conditions for a parking garage have been met

TSDC released a statement that the city's conditions to issue bonds for a parking garage had been met, a scenario the corporation at one time doubted it could accomplish.

"TSDC has worked diligently since November to meet the conditions set by the City," Hamner said in a press release. "We now have signed a contract with a client who will guarantee occupancy in the city's parking structure which will cover the shortfall and ensure the revenue stream that was a concern of the commission."

Commissioners didn't vote to issue bonds for the garage at their meeting Monday, but agreed to work with the center's developers to redesign the structure. Anything above the original estimate to build the garage would be paid for by the center's developers, according to a resolution passed unanimously Monday.

One condition of the lease is that the parking garage be built. A $1.75 million federal grant has been secured, and TSDC presented letters from local businesses that state intentions to lease spaces. Those businesses are: Farmers National Bank, Redwood Realty Investments, Fire D's Communications, Symbiotix, CBS Companies, Carol's Bridal and Danville Family Dentistry.

The doctors will work with AMB Development Group in Milwaukee and Aspen Healthcare in Boulder, Colo. There have been commitments from 20 surgeons to use the facility.

Rest of the space would be doctor's offices, hospital offices or retail space

The center would use as much as 18,000 square feet and be located on the first floor. The rest of the building's 32,000 square feet could be developed for doctor's offices, hospital offices or retail space, Serey said.

The group hopes the center would be open by 2005.

TSDC will place a covenant on the facade of the building, protecting it from any significant change. The corporation said in its release that the project will "transform the Gilcher Hotel into a building teeming with new activity and services that will benefit the central business district."

"This is truly a joy," said Commissioner Ryan Owens.

His sentiments were echoed by all the other commissioners, who said they believed the project would revitalize downtown and create jobs.

Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center, which will eventually own some interest in the center, hopes that other businesses would be encouraged to consider relocating or opening in downtown, according to a press release.

Serey said the Gilcher's proximity to the hospital and to many doctor's offices made it a good fit.

State approval is being sought for the project. A Certificate of Need was approved several years ago for a location on Daniel Drive, just off the U.S. 150 bypass, according to a press release from EMRMC.

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