Ground Broke for Ridgeview / Lutheran Home Campus
by Dan Ruud, Belle Plaine Herald
Originally published August 18, 2016
Fifteen days after a “ribbon-cutting” ceremony marking the opening of a second overpass in Belle Plaine, a “ground-breaking” ceremony was held just a little more than a football field length away to mark the start of construction of a nearly $20 million medical clinic, wellness center and senior housing campus at the northwest corner of the intersection of Highway 169 and County Road 3/Meridian Street.
Officials from Ridgeview Medical Center, The Lutheran Home Association and the City of Belle Plaine, some with gold shovels in hand, and others gathered at the site Thursday morning to ceremonially flip some dirt to commemorate the start of real earth-moving this week.
‘Excavation and tree removal for what will be one of the biggest building projects in Belle Plaine history got underway Monday. Plans call for a mixed-use development that will include a three-story, 54-unit senior independent living center, a 12,900-square-foot medical clinic with future vertical expansion, and a 10,000-square-foot health and wellness center. Ridgeview Medical Center (medical clinic and health and wellness center) and The Lutheran Home Association (senior housing facility) are teaming on the project.
The senior care center is proposed to be constructed over a 36-space underground parking facility (there will also be 167 surface spaces). The campus will be accessed from Commerce Drive West.
According to Ridgeview Vice President John Prondzinski, the estimated cost of the clinic and health and wellness center portion of the project is between $7 million and $8 million, while the estimated cost of the senior living facility is $11 million. The contractor for the project is Catalyst Construction of Milwaukee, Wis. The campus is expected to be completed by next July.
The first to speak at Thursday’s ceremony was Ridgeview President and CEO Robert Stevens. “We’re very, very pleased to be a part of Belle Plaine going forward,” said Stevens, who praised the City of Belle Plaine‘s “foresight” in initiating the project and The Lutheran Home for its partnership during the planning process.
Lutheran Home President and CEO Michael Klatt echoed Stevens’ praises for the partnerships that developed along the way between the city, The Lutheran Home and Ridgeview. He added that the project will benefit people “for decades to come.”
Pingalore, the third and final speaker, recalled the time he approached Belle Plaine/Ridgeview Ambulance Director Doug Sweeney to begin gauging interest in the possibility of Ridgeview, with roots in Waconia, building a medical facility in Belle Plaine, seeing how Ridgeview had been overseeing Belle Plaine’s ambulance operation for a number of years. The ball started rolling at that time and continued all the way to this week’s ground-breaking.
The construction of the nearby overpass, which opened July 27, played a major part in Ridgeview’s decision to build a health campus in Belle Plaine in that the overpass makes the campus more accessible, especially from the south side of Highway 169.
“Some people have called it the bridge to nowhere but this (medical clinic and senior living campus) is somewhere,” Pingalore told the ground-breaking audience.
The fact that the city is selling the seven-acre site to Ridgeview for $1 also helped reel in the project. A business subsidy agreement approved earlier this year with Ridgeview states that wage and job goals resulting from the project must be met and retained. Ridgeview is to create a minimum of 20 full-time equivalent jobs with a starting wage of no less than $12.69 per hour, which is 175 percent of the federal minimum-wage law. Failure to meet these goals would result in a reduction of the business subsidy.