Mesa State College, Community Hospital tout land deal

The Mesa State board of Trustees has given the go-ahead for the college to buy the Community Hospital property across Orchard Avenue from the campus. Chris Thomas, left, president and chief executive officer of Community Hospital, said he will seek approval for the deal from the hospital board. Thomas is shown Wednesday with Mesa State President Tim Foster.

Mesa State College plans to expand north and Community Hospital plans to move west, pending a real estate deal between the two neighbors.

The college and the hospital have flirted for years with the idea of Mesa State purchasing the hospital’s land at 2021 N. 12th St. They plan to seal the real estate deal as soon as this summer, Mesa State President Tim Foster and Community Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Thomas told The Daily Sentinel on Wednesday.

The college’s board of trustees has given its blessing for the land purchase. Thomas said he will speak to his board of directors about the tentative deal.

The purchase would free up Community Hospital to build a new hospital on 40 acres it owns at 2373 G Road. Thomas said there are no designs for a new building, but he expects it would be 30,000 square feet larger than the current 90,000-square-foot facility and provide room for the hospital to offer more services. He declined to elaborate on what services might be added.

The hospital soon will study its ability to pay back an expected construction cost of $45 million to $50 million. If it has that capability, Thomas estimated it would take another six to nine months to design the new building and another 22 to 24 months to build it.

During that time, the hospital would lease its current buildings from the college for $1 per year, Thomas said.

“The operations of the hospital aren’t going to change,” he said.

The college has no immediate plans to build on the property around the hospital buildings except for one project, which would go up on the near-barren northwest corner of 12th Street and Orchard Avenue. That’s where the college plans to break ground on a 182-bed residence hall set to open next summer.

Foster said construction of the $11 million residence hall, which will help the school prepare for an expected increase in demand for on-campus housing next fall, may begin as soon as a month from now. The time crunch gave the college three options: buy the hospital’s land; put the residence hall in a less-than-ideal location next to sports fields on campus; or wait until multiple homes can be purchased west of campus.

The college already saved $2 million for making a down payment on the hospital land but decided it was worth it paying the entire $7.1 million for the property, which is bordered by 11th and 12th streets and Orchard and Walnut avenues.

The college in December will finish paying $1.26 million a year on land it purchased for the Archuleta Engineering Center at Western Colorado Community College. It plans to rebudget most of that amount to make annual payments on the hospital property.

Foster said he wants to “allow the hospital to take their time and move.” In the meantime, he’s not worried the land will go to waste after the hospital leaves.

“I can’t think of a campus that suffers because it has too much real estate,” he said.

Mesa State will continue plans approved by the college trustees in April to acquire properties west of campus to Seventh Street, although Foster said those efforts may be less vigorous while the college pays for the hospital land. He said he does not plan to pursue land purchases west or north of the Community Hospital property.


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