Initial Backing is given in Creve Coeur to Replace West County Hospital

A proposal from BJC HealthCare for a new Barnes-Jewish has been made to significantly transform its campus in west St. Louis County, including plans to build a new hospital to replace the current one, passed its first hurdle Monday night.

Creve Coeur planning and zoning officials gave the project unanimous initial support.

In addition to the new hospital, the project calls for a new parking structure and at least four new medical office buildings and an expansion of the existing Siteman Cancer Center building on campus. George Stock, a BJC representative at the meeting, said that while the initial plan includes a large amount of surface parking, that space is expected to eventually be replaced by medical offices.

In addition, Jason Jaggi, director of community development for Creve Coeur, said that nearby residents’ fears of a view obstructed by the medical complex would be offset by the complex being in the center of the site, rather than on the perimeter.

Among those who expressed such concerns was Jeannine Aldridge, who with her husband has lived in a house south of the project for more than 18 years. She said the house is at a higher elevation than the hospital and looks right into the campus.

She said she fears the “massive development” that BJC has planned will change their view from mostly green space to that of lighted parking lots. “A little community hospital is what we have now,” said Aldridge.

Don Magruder, a member of the planning and zoning commission, raised concern about traffic. “It looks like there will be two or three times the number of people,” he said.

Stock did not deny that the complex would bring added traffic.

As part of the approval, BJC agreed to two extra conditions on the proposal to address some of the concerns. One is that there could be a larger buffer than now planned between the campus and Olive Boulevard. The other is that open sections of the campus would be filled with trees and other plants.

The replacement hospital is going to be larger than the current one, Jaggi said. The new hospital will be six stories and encompass 260,000 square feet.

The current hospital is only two stories, Jaggi said. The hospital is to have 100 beds; the current one is a 77-bed facility.

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To find out more, check out the full article on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch at www.stltoday.com.