An early rendering of what the New England Cancer Specialists facility at Rock Row may look like. Developers hope to wrap up the project by late 2023. File photo

The Westbrook Planning Board gave a positive reception Tuesday to plans for the New England Cancer Specialists’ proposed flagship medical center and campus at Rock Row.

The plan calls for two buildings on a 200,000-square-foot site near the quarry, one for treatment and research and the other for parking and “supporting retail products and services.” Developer Waterstone hopes to have the site up and running in 2023 and will be in front of the Planning Board for a approval at a future meeting.

A rendering of the building center facing Interstate 95. Screenshot / Westbrook Community TV

New England Cancer Specialists will occupy 40,000 square feet of the primary building, and the remaining space will be available to “premier and vetted” medical practices and support services, it said. Special practices the group hopes to attract include diagnostic imaging, blood labs, physical therapy, urgent care, nutritionists, family psychologists and other multi-disciplinary specialty and primary care practices.

We are excited about what this will be and grow into,” Waterstone Co-Founder Josh Levy said. “We are also having a commercial building next to it, so it’d be great for a 24/7 urgent care walk-in, café, perhaps another quasi-medical provider that is in addition to the center.”

The New England Cancer Specialists is slated to be a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. operation, but developers said they hope to expand that in the future.

The nearby parking garage will be free and open to the public, but will mainly serve guests and staff, Levy said. Details about the garage size were not provided.

Levy also said the medical campus  will have a healing garden, and the architecture will be bright and welcoming with open outdoor views, as opposed to a more “sterile” hospital look.

I love the sensitivity to patients, not seeming too sterile,” Planning Board member Robin Tannenbaum said. “I like the material palette a lot.”

Board Chairperson Rene Daniels agreed.

“I like that it looks like a sculpture and the texture of the building and that it isn’t all the same thing,” Daniels said. “I am pleased with the grasses being used, shades of the trees. Beauty in nature has a habit of giving the air of healthiness and that is extremely important. So far, it looks magnificent.”

City Economic Development Director Dan Stevenson told the American Journal that “from an economic standpoint, this is really huge.”

“Health care is our No. 2 economic engine in the whole state. It has good-paying jobs, and having a cancer specialist center at this high of a caliber, too, is amazing,” Stevenson said. “We wholeheartedly welcome them to our community.”

The medical campus is the third phase in the construction of Rock Row. Additions for the second phase, including the food hall, have been announced and slated to open in 2023.

Developers expect to have the medical campus site cleared this fall before work begins next construction season.

Chik-fil-A, outdoor company REI and a building that will house Big Fin Poke, Starbucks and U.S Cellular, among other businesses, is scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

A rendering of the entrance to the proposed cancer research center. Screenshot / Westbrook Community TV

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