This rendering shows Maine Medical Center’s site plan for the employee parking garage on St. John Street. Courtesy of Maine Medical Center

Maine Medical Center’s $512 million expansion is moving ahead with the second phase of its five-year construction – a new employee parking garage.

The Portland hospital announced Monday that it has submitted plans to the city Planning Board for the 2,450-space garage at 222 St. John St., with construction to begin this fall.

Maine Med is working on the first phase of its expansion, adding three floors to the visitor garage and building two floors at the hospital’s East Tower. The East Tower will have 64 new oncology rooms and be the new site of the helipad. The helipad is currently on top of the 1,200-space employee parking garage, which was constructed in the early 1970s and is “near the end of its useful life,” according to a Maine Med statement.

Matt Wickenheiser, a Maine Med spokesman, said that employees now park in the garage or at nearby lots. Maine Med has 8,700 employees who work either at the Maine Med campus in Portland’s West End or at satellite campuses and at times need to work at the West End campus.

“The goal is to consolidate parking into one spot, where employees can quickly and easily find a parking space, grab a shuttle and get to work,” Wickenheiser said. The St. John Street location – about a quarter-mile from Maine Med – is one of the surface parking lots and will be converted into the garage.

Wickenheiser said 13 shuttles will operate continuously so that employees won’t have to wait more than a few minutes.

Construction of the employee garage is expected to begin this fall and be completed by late 2019. Demolition of the employee garage on Gilman Street would start in 2020.

The demolition of the employee garage will make way for the hospital expansion’s 270,000-square-foot addition that will include a new entranceway and patient rooms. Maine Med’s building footprint will increase by about 25 percent when the project is completed in 2023.

The expansion will add 128 single-occupancy patient rooms and 19 procedure rooms for surgery and other treatments. The total patient capacity at Maine Med – 637 beds – will not change, because rooms are being converted from double occupancy to single occupancy. Single occupancy is now considered the standard of care at hospitals, to help prevent infections and provide patient safety and comfort.

The state and city had previously approved the expansion, but the hospital must submit site plans for each structure. The city can require or suggest that changes be made to fit its overall development plans, such as to improve traffic flow or to alter the design of buildings.

The Maine Med expansion is in Portland’s “institutional overlay zone,” a blueprint that gives the city more flexibility to make sure developments mesh with neighborhoods.

Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at:

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