Northern Light Mercy Hospital plans to break ground this spring on a new hospital and medical office building on Mercy’s Fore River campus in Portland.

The $83.8 million expansion project includes new hospital space, including a new emergency room, ambulatory surgery center and 95 additional surface parking spaces.

The Planning Board approved the project on Tuesday, clearing the way for the first major expansion of the Fore River location that opened in 2008. The state approved the project in May.

Ed Gilman, spokesman for Mercy Hospital, said the project will take 18 to 24 months to complete. Once finished, the expansion will allow Mercy to offer a full range of services at one location and improve patient experience, while also reducing annual operating costs, he said.

“We’ve seen significant changes in the healthcare marketplace since the first phase of the campus was completed,” Gilman said. “This project has been designed to meet the health care needs of our community now while positioning us to meet future demand.”

The expansion also allows for a consolidation of Mercy’s operations and will lead to the closure and sale of Mercy’s hospital building at 144 State St., which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and considered a local landmark. The 3.5 acre parcel also includes an adjacent parking lot.

In December 2018, Mercy said it had narrowed down the pool of bidders on its highly coveted 3.5-acre State Street property in Portland’s West End to six individuals and groups with the likely goal of redeveloping at least some of the property for residential use. Mercy has not yet announced the winning bidder, or the redevelopment plan.

The expansion, approved unanimously by the Planning Board, will consist of a nearly 193,000-square-foot hospital, a nearly 82,200-square-foot medical office building and a nearly 35,000-square-foot ambulatory surgery center.

“I think it’s a great project and a great facility,” said Planning Board member David Eaton.

Mercy has said its two-year hospital construction project would be funded by proceeds from a $20 million fundraising campaign, the sale of it’s State Street property plus some additional cash and equity, and financing.

The approval comes as Maine Medical Center, Portland’s other regional hospital, is in the midst of a major expansion of its West End campus less than two miles away.

Maine Medical Center’s $534 million project consists of 128 new private patient rooms, 19 procedure rooms for surgeries and other complex treatments, an additional 225 spaces for patient and visitor parking, and a consolidation of employee parking into one nearby garage that will meet current demand and future growth.


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