A massive $400 million medical tower that will soon be built at 509 Biltmore Avenue will be the largest construction project in Asheville’s history.
The new tower will allow to Mission Health to shutter its aging St. Joseph’s campus and consolidate all operations on the newer Mission campus side of the operation.
Last year, the City Council voted its approval to Mission Health to build a new 12-story, 681,000 square foot tower, which will include new operating rooms and an emergency services department.
The project’s architect is HDR and the general contractor is Turner Construction.
The project’s large size meant it required a Level III review under the city’s Unified Development Ordinance and a council vote.
The tower would have frontage on Hospital Drive and Victoria Road, replacing the St. Joseph’s hospital campus, which is on the opposite side of Biltmore from most of Mission Health’s facilities.
That has meant at times patients are transported by ambulance across the busy road.
The hospital began seriously looking at changes four years ago. The facilities at the St. Joseph’s facility were aging out, and there was a need for a new emergency department.
The St. Joseph’s facility is outdated, cannot accommodate new technology, and would be too costly to renovate.
The tower project on the Memorial Campus achieve cost savings by eliminating the duplication of services required to maintain facilities on both sides of the street, as well as to improve patients’ experience and safety by eliminating the need to transport them back and forth.
Construction on the tower, which will have two floors underground, is set to be completed in November 2018.
City planning director Tod Okolinchany said it will be the biggest project Asheville has ever seen. “The Asheville Mall exceeds 900,000 square feet but was completed in phases over several years,” he said.
The tower will have 216 beds, and services such as a heart catheter lab and endoscopy, intensive care unit and medical-surgery recovery floor, along with a cafeteria, an 84-bed emergency room, and support offices.
The project calls for retaining walls as high as 28 feet in some places. To soften their effect, the hospital plans to use plants and design elements.
There are also plans for a small park area at the corner of Hospital Drive and Biltmore.
The former St. Joe’s site will later be redeveloped to provide needed affordable housing, as well as commercial use and retail shops.