Las Cruces Sun News Article By Steve Ramirez / firstname.lastname@example.org
Originally posted at www.lcsun-news.com 05/27/2013 12:10:52 PM MDT
The former Las Cruces Country Club has fallen into disrepair as it awaits a future plan for development.
LAS CRUCES — The process to begin filling the largest open space within city limits will likely start in less than a month.
Barring the unforeseen, the Las Cruces Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to meet June 25 to consider rezoning 30 acres at the former Las Cruces Country Club. A rezoning application was filed April 22 with the city’s Community Development Department seeking two zoning designations: commercial high intensity (C-3), and multi-dwelling high density and limited retail and office (R-4c).
If approved by the commission and then the Las Cruces City Council, there are plans to build and operate Park Ridge Medical Center, a 42-bed full service hospital, that would specialize in cardiac health care.
Information provided to city officials indicates the hospital would be developed by Galichia Hospital Group, a limited liability company that owns and operates hospitals throughout the U.S. A Galichia Hospital Groups brochure provided to city officials said developers are “partnering with over 20 local physicians who are investing in the real estate and equipment.” The brochure added “Las Cruces is experiencing rapid population and economic growth.”
Numerous messages seeking comments and details from Dr. Joseph P. Gallichia, co-founder and chief executive officer, and Michael Phillips, founder, chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Galichia Hospital Group, LLC were not returned.
However, Las Cruces developer Robert Pofahl, whose company has developed conceptual plans and conducted several meetings with city officials and residents about the proposed development, has said the sale of the former country club property is contingent upon the city approving rezoning. A sales price has never been publicly disclosed, but the property has been appraised at $7.4 million.
Currently, the 110-acre former country club property is zoned single-family residential medium density. The existing zoning designation allows for only one single-family residential home to be built on any portion of the 110 acres.
Pofahl has shown ambitious conceptual plans for the property. The in-fill project could include development of Park Ridge Medical Center, an assisted living center, a small office park, a hotel, a retail center, a plaza, multi-family housing, townhouses, a charter school, and walking paths throughout the development.
“This zone change is to zone the 30 acres C-3 and R-4c,” Community Development Director David Weir said. “The condition for the R-4 is to allow only the residential use of assisted living and residential rehabilitation facilities.”
Weir added the process for considering a zone change for the 30 acres could take at least six to nine months.
“Once the Planning and Zoning Commission has made its recommendations, it would go to City Council about six weeks after that,” Weir said.
A Planned Unit Development (PUD) designation would be sought for the remaining 80 acres of the former country club. Weir said there is no timetable for that, because a PUD application has not been submitted to the city.
“Something like that would probably take at least another year to go through the process,” Weir said.
Developers of the proposed Park Ridge would need a second major entry and exit point into the development. They have identified the former country club’s primary entrance, off North Main Street as one of those locations.
However, a second entry and exit point is still to be determined. Developers proposed a second route off Madrid Avenue. They presented an option to city officials to realign Madrid Avenue so it would be contiguous from Triviz Drive west to Alameda Boulevard.
But that would have meant moving a portion of Madrid through Apodaca Park, one of the city’s largest parks.
City Manager Robert Garza said that probably would have been a tough sell to the City Council. Garza added city administrators also expressed concerns about the proposal.
“The question still being bantered about is what is the appropriate road alignment network,” Garza said. “In our discussions with developers we asked them how they intended to make the city whole if they were to move the road through Apodaca Park. We told them, quite frankly, that Apodaca Park is not for sale.”
Residents living in the country club neighborhood also disapproved of any notion of rerouting Madrid to cut through Apodaca Park.
“We observe how much use the park gets and we are grateful for the trees,” Charles Greene said. “There are always lots of families with children enjoying the park on weekends and holidays.”
Weir said it doesn’t appear now that a realignment of Madrid will happen.
“My understanding is that the realignment of Madrid is no longer being pursued and will not be proposed for the PUD,” Weir said.
Garza said city officials suggested to developers a second major entry and exit into Park Ridge could be at intersection of Solano Drive and Madrid, where a second entrance into Apodaca Park now exists. However, that idea didn’t initially seem to interest developers.
Third hospital needed?
In meeting with Galichia and Phillips, Garza said they envisioned the proposed Park Ridge Medical Center as “a cross between the Ritz Carlton (Hotel) and a hospital.”
Galichia is the founder of the Galichia Medical Group. The company owns and operates: the Galichia Heart Hospital, in Wichita, Kan., the Lubbock (Texas) Heart Hospital, and the Galichia Hospital Group.
“They said Las Cruces has the customers and clientele for it,” said Garza, of Park Ridge Medical Center. “They were very serious about it. They said it would be a physician-owned investment. They would be prepared to develop a market for up to 60 beds, but building 42 to start.
“They said a new hospital would fill a niche not currently being met.”
But, Garza, who, as city manager, is an ex-officio member of the Memorial Medical Center board of directors, said there would be pluses and minuses of another hospital in Las Cruces.
“As an economic development project, I encourage them to pursue the possibilities,” Garza said. “It’s a medical facility, and those are generally considered to be clean industries. Hospitals are generally quiet and well-managed places.
“But one question will be if the timing of it fills a void the community needs. Also, the process of establishing itself in the community is probably going to take a considerable amount of time.”
Statistics from American Hospital Directory.com indicated that neither Memorial Medical Center or MountainView Regional Medical Center are at full patient capacity. The occupancy rate at MMC is less than 50 percent, and MountainView is about two-thirds full.
“We are proud of the quality care provided by MountainView Regional Medical Center over the past 10 years, from obstetrics to open heart surgery,” said Denten Park, MountainView Regional Medical Center chief executive officer. “… The number of patients who choose us for their medical care has steadily grown, and, because we offer high-quality health services and have the capacity to care for even more patients, we are confident that this will continue.”
In addition to the hospital, Pofahl said high-end retail could be located near Park Ridge Medical Center.
Who or what type of high-end retail would locate there has not been disclosed. But, possible examples could includes such retailers as Nordstroms, Macy’s, or maybe even Trader Joe’s or possibly Costco.
Kary Bulsterbaum, an associated broker with Steinborn TCN Commercial Real Estate said while the notion is a good one, he isn’t sure if Las Cruces — despite it’s recent increase in population to an estimated 100,000 — is ready for high-end retail.
“I wish the developers and investors nothing but the best with this proposed high end retail, medical and multi-family development,” said Bulsterbaum, a Las Cruces native. “Development in this sector of town can only be a positive for our community, if properly planned.
“(But) I am not necessarily convinced about the high end, upscale retail elements of the plan, itself, due to typical and historical retailer behavior and the desire to be located in more proven retail districts. However, this does not mean they do not have the best of intentions. In general, we have not yet proven to be a community that attracts true high-end retail. If this trend were to change, there is a much higher probability of this occurring within the Telshor and Lohman corridor up to and including the intersection of Sonoma Ranch and east Lohman.”
Steve Ramirez can be reached at 575-541-5452. Follow him on Twitter @SteveRamirez6
— The 110 acre former Las Cruces Country Club property could become a development known as Park Ridge.
— The proposed development would include: a 42-bed medical center, a combination assisted living center and rehabilitation hospital, a small office park, a hotel, pad sites for restaurants, a retail center, a plaza, multi-family housing, townhouses, a charter school, parks and a walking path around the development.
— The Las Cruces Country Club property was sold in November, but final closing of the sale is contingent upon developers being able to get the property rezoned.
— The Las Cruces Planning and Zoning Commission is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. June 25 to begin its consideration of a rezoning application.
— The rezoning application is for 30 acres where the proposed Park Ridge Medical Center would be located.