Frequently Asked Questions
Saratoga Hospital PUD Amendment

FAQs re: Saratoga Hospital’s proposed medical office building

The Rationale

Q. Why does Saratoga Hospital need this new medical office building?
A. The simple answer is to continually improve patient care. Right now, the hospital has specialists in leased spaces spread out around the City. The new building will enable the hospital to bring these doctors together, in a location that makes it easy for them to consult and collaborate on patient care. Equally important, the location is ideal. The immediate proximity to the hospital will allow doctors quick and unobstructed access to the hospital to see their sickest patients and perform procedures as needed—and then promptly return to the office to keep outpatient appointments. 

Q. What is the benefit to patients and the Saratoga community?
A. The project offers both immediate and long-term benefits.

Enhanced care, convenience: Hospitalized patients will benefit from having their specialists nearby, literally within walking distance. Outpatients will be able to schedule appointments with different specialists on the same day, in the same location. Inpatients and outpatients will reap the benefits of better-coordinated care, shorter wait times, and fewer rescheduled appointments.

Coordinated care: Doctors will now be located in one building, allowing them to work as a team, consulting and collaborating on cases, saving time and enhancing coordination of care.

Physician recruitment: The new offices will help the hospital continue to attract world-class physicians and add new specialties to provide the care the Saratoga community expects and deserves.

Savings, reinvestment in the community: As a non-profit organization, any money that the hospital saves is reinvested in services that benefit the Saratoga community. Right now, the hospital spends about $750,000 per year to rent space for these specialists. The new building will eliminate that expense and, because of energy efficiencies, reduce utility costs. These savings can be put to better use serving patients.

Q. Why choose this location?
A.
After considering multiple options, the hospital has concluded that this location is clearly the best option on every front. The hospital looked at other property, but no piece of land offers this proximity to the main campus. The hospital also looked at building elsewhere on the existing campus, but there is no room to grow. Any on-campus project would displace parking during and after construction, and building a parking garage—at a cost of $10,000-$12,000 per space—is not a good use of the community’s healthcare dollars. The hospital would rather invest in facilities and equipment that support patient care. 


The Details

Q. Which land does the hospital want to buy?
A.
Saratoga Hospital has an option to buy about 16 acres of land on Myrtle and Morgan streets. The hospital is asking the City to include 8.54 of those acres in the Saratoga Hospital/Professional Planned Unit Development (PUD). The PUD designation permits more flexible, mixed development in keeping with the City’s comprehensive plan. 

Although the 16 acres are zoned Urban Residential-1 (UR-1), the land is designated as “institutional” under the comprehensive plan. If the hospital’s proposal is approved, 8.54 acres will be added to the PUD. The approximately 7.5 acres on the western side of the property will remain zoned UR-1.


Q. What are the project specifications, i.e., size, parking, occupancy?
A.
Plans call for a three-story 75,000-square foot building. At its highest point—the peak of the roof on the south side—the building height will be 53.85 feet. That is well below the 60-foot maximum permitted under the City’s residential zoning. Plans include 300 parking spaces. Of those, approximately 90 will be for staff. The hospital’s initial investment in the building will be $14 million.

You can view a sketch of the building and draft sketch plan here.

Q. Who will be located there?
A.
The building will be occupied by doctors and staff employed by Saratoga Hospital in the following medical specialties: bariatric/weight-loss surgery, cardiology, general surgery, oncology/cancer care, nephrology, pulmonology, and urology.

Currently, these practices are located in leased space around the City. Doctors and staff will move to the new building on a staggered basis, over the next five to six years, as leases expire.

Q. Do the comprehensive plan and zoning allow this use?
A.
The comprehensive plan allows institutional development at this site. Currently, the land is zoned for residential use. The hospital is requesting that the land be added to the Saratoga Hospital/Professional Planned Unit Development. If that request is granted, the medical office building would be a permitted use.

Q. What approvals/reviews are required?
A.
The proposal is subject to the City’s standard, extensive review process. Already:

A State Environmental Quality Review—including assessment of environmental, historic, and archeological impact—has found no impact.
The Planning Board has made a positive recommendation to the City Council based on findings that the zone-change request is in keeping with the general intent of the zoning code and the comprehensive plan.
The City Council has held public hearings and will make a decision on the zone change only.

If the City Council approves the zone change, the Planning Board will conduct a complete site plan review, including all building and engineering issues.


Addressing neighbors’ questions

Q. Will the project increase traffic? How is the hospital proposing to address this?
A.
Engineering studies have determined that the impact on traffic will be “none to small”—roughly one more car per minute during traditional office hours. It’s important to keep in mind that any increase will occur gradually. Since staff will move into the new building as current leases expire, it will take five to seven years for the building to be fully occupied.

Even so, the hospital will take steps to address neighbors’ concerns. The hospital plans to widen Morgan and Myrtle Streets, add sidewalks, and add three-way stop signs at Morgan and Myrtle. All of these changes are designed to improve pedestrian and traffic safety in the neighborhood.

Q. Will the lighting impact neighbors?
A.
The lighting has been designed specifically to provide the necessary illumination with minimal impact on neighbors. An energy-efficient, targeted lighting system will significantly reduce any spillover lighting to neighboring properties. In addition, lighting will be reduced in stages at night. You can see the staging plan here.

Q. Will the project involve blasting?
A.
Based on the project plans, minimal blasting is anticipated. Any blasting will be done in compliance with all City codes.

Q. Are there plans to manage drainage?
A.
The project is not expected to have an impact on drainage. Storm water—from rain, snow, and ice—will be managed through on-site basins, ponds, and planters. In addition, the hospital will extend a storm main down Myrtle Street to connect to the existing manhole across from the Alfred Z. Solomon Emergency Center.

Q. If issues occur during and after construction, how can we be sure the hospital will live up to its commitments to the neighborhood?
A.
The hospital is a longstanding good neighbor. The hospital has been located on Church Street since 1911 and intends to remain here, serving the community, for generations to come. If neighbors have questions or concerns, they can turn to the hospital for help or guidance. In fact, when issues have come up in connection with past construction projects, the hospital has worked with neighbors to address issues promptly and completely.

Already, in response to concerns about this project, the hospital has scaled back the height and size of the building and agreed to keep a greater number of more mature trees. For the hospital’s neighbors in the adjacent Birch Run development, the hospital has agreed to expand an existing berm and add plantings. The hospital also will add vegetation to provide additional screening for residents of the Park Place apartments.


If you have questions or would like more information, contact Peter Hopper at Saratoga Hospital at phopper@saratogahospital.org.