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St. Francis: Facility will serve market


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Franciscan St. Francis Health officials believe that a proposed office in downtown Columbus will help them to better serve the Columbus market and St. Francis patients who live in the area.

The hospital company and property owners Tipton Park Offices are asking the City Council to approve a property tax abatement on the former Goodyear Columbus Tire property at 123 Second St.

The request was tabled last week by the council, while city and St. Francis officials studied information that would determine the level of tax abatement available.

Reconsideration tentatively is scheduled for the council’s meeting Tuesday, when a 10-year abatement on an investment in excess of $1 million could be considered.

Tipton Park Offices is applying for the tax abatement. The property has an assessed value of $305,800, and Tipton Park Offices paid $6,383 in taxes last year, according to Bartholomew County property tax records.

 

Robert J. Brody, president and CEO at Indianapolis-based St. Francis, said the hospital hopes to start construction this spring and open the offices this fall.

“As our health system expands its role and responsibilities through the new model of health care into Accountable Care Organizations and population health management, it is fundamentally sound, efficient and expected that we provide expert resources in convenient locations for the many populations we serve,” Brody wrote in an e-mail to The Republic.

“The new medical office facility would be a logical extension of that care, and we are heartened by the many positive comments regarding our consideration of placement of services in the area.”

Franciscan St. Francis Health, operating since 1914, is one of the largest health care systems in Indiana, according to the company’s website.

The company’s Indianapolis hospital opened in 1995. It operates 13 hospitals in Indiana and South Chicago

The hospital has treated patients from the Columbus area for decades, especially in specialties such as heart and cancer care, Joe Stuteville, media relations manager for St. Francis, said in a news release.

He said the Columbus location would provide closer and more convenient access for local patients who frequently travel to Franciscan St. Francis Health-Indianapolis on Emerson Avenue.

Based on information included in its tax-abatement application, the downtown medical office would start with two physicians, five medical assistants and an office manager, generating estimated annual salaries of $587,600.

Growth could include another physician, two medical assistants and an X-ray technician, which would add about $317,000 more in annual salaries, according to the application.

Construction would include a new facade for the building, plus gutting and remodeling the interior of the building, according to the application.

The hospital would enter into a 10-year lease with the property owner, Tipton Park Offices, which is owned by the Becker family, also owners of Becker’s Drive-In.

City Attorney Kelly Benjamin said that the decision was delayed last week as the city researched when the property was added to the downtown Economic Revitalization Area, a requirement for a tax abatement.

If added before 2000, the City Council has the option of a three-, six- or 10-year abatement. If the property was added more recently, the council could consider an abatement of one to 10 years, she said.

However, research revealed that the property also is part of the city’s downtown Economic Development Target Area. Under that designation, a tax abatement could be offered for six years if the investment were up to $1 million and 10 years for an investment of more than $1 million.

Benjamin said the project would qualify for the 10-year abatement.

In the first year of an abatement, no taxes are paid on the improvements, and the taxes are phased in over the life of the abatement, with 95 percent of the taxes being paid by the 10th year.

According to state law,

exact costs associated with the project are confidential.

Council President Ryan Brand and council member Tim Shuffett said they likely will recuse themselves from discussions of the tax abatement because of possible conflicts of interest.

Brand is vice president of Brands Inc., a lumber company that provides material to contractors, and Shuffett is a project estimator at Case Construction.

Goodyear Columbus Tire closed in May 2000, and the building was largely unused until the fall of 2011, when Buckingham Construction Corp. began using it for construction offices for The Cole apartments.

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