The Center at Eden Hill aiming for a fall groundbreaking

City of Dover sealDOVER — The Center at Eden Hill, a proposed three-story, 65,000-square-foot skilled nursing facility, is well on its way to a landing spot next to the Eden Hill Medical Center despite a somewhat circuitous route.

The $19-million Center at Eden Hill will mark the second phase of the planned six phase Eden Hill Professional Office, Medical and Financial District.

The city of Dover Planning Commission reviewed an Administrative Site Plan for The Center at Eden Hill at its meeting at City Hall on Monday night.

Tom Barnett, president of Eden Hill Medical Center, anticipates receiving approval from the city and beginning construction on the project in November.

“The project has been going along very well. We’re hoping to break ground in November,” Mr. Barnett said. “It’s probably going to take about 12 to 13 months to build it and then it’s hopefully going to be opening in December 2017.

“Basically what [the city] approved were 80 private rooms with 80 private bathrooms. It’s going to bring a new level of care to the skilled nursing facilities and subsequent rehab facilities.”

Genesis Healthcare had fought the construction of the Eden Hill nursing facility, maintaining there are enough skilled care facilities to serve the public already in Kent County.

While the planned Center at Eden Hill earlier received a Certificate of Public Review from the Delaware Health Resources Board, Genesis Healthcare contested the decision in Superior Court, which upheld the decision in an appeal last December.

“It’s definitely had its challenges but it’s definitely a worthwhile project that we believe in very strongly and we’re looking forward to moving ahead and making it come to fruition,” said Sean Mace, vice president of the Eden Hill Medical Center.

Eden Hill’s third building – of what will eventually be a series of nine buildings that are expected to eventually be built at the complex – was originally planned to be a 35,500-square-foot medical facility.

However, that plan was leap-frogged by the vision of a sub-acute rehabilitation nursing facility that’s designed to provide short-term care for patients leaving the hospital and still in need of services.

“That’s just a matter of phasing,” Mr. Mace said. “Eden Hill Medical Center has a 25-and-a-half acre campus, so building one [and two] was Phase 1 and that’s the Eden Hill Medical Center building that everybody’s used to going into now and visiting.

“But with Phase 2 through Phase 6 it all comes down to the size of the parcel of land that somebody may need to what they what they want to do. This sub-acute care nursing facility fit better on that parcel than it would have on any other.”

The Center at Eden Hill is projected to offer physical, occupational and speech therapy. Its original design concept was changed from a L-shaped building to a T-shape, with parking behind the facility in relation to its frontage off Banning Street.

The building will be situated on the south side of West North Street and west of the railroad corridor flanking Banning Street.

The skilled nursing building will follow a traditional neighborhood design approved by the city of Dover and flow with the surrounding residential area along with existing Eden Hill Medical Center structures.

With the current master plan in place and the Eden Hill Medical Center operational, the entire parcel has all utilities in place, along with stormwater management capacity.

Phase 1 of the project, the Eden Hill Medical Center that was built in 2007-’08, brought two buildings together with a central connection building element and sits at 200 Banning St.

The Center at Eden Hill is backed by 34 investors, including 24 physicians.

Mr. Barnett still has ambitious long-range plans for the overall complex.

“It’s probably going to take about another five years to get entire complex completed,” he said. “We are planning for six total phases but it’s all subject to change. We’re just really looking forward to moving ahead [with Phase 2].”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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