Kaiser to open new local facility

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One of the nation’s leading health care providers will bring 100 new jobs to Douglas County with the opening of a large-scale, multi-specialty medical office complex.

Kaiser Permanente announced plans May 19 to open what will eventually be a 200,000-square-foot medical building just west of the Regional Transportation District’s Lincoln Light Rail station near I-25 and Park Meadows Drive. The company plans to begin construction late next year and open by the fourth quarter of 2013.

Roland Lyon, vice president of regional strategy and performance for Kaiser, said the company will hire roughly 100 employees for administrative and clinical positions, including nurses, physicians, technicians, receptionists and maintenance crews. The two-year project will also generate hundreds of construction jobs, Lyon said.

The three- to -five story building will be built in phases, with the initial construction phase culminating in a 120,000-square-foot office. The second phase, which will add another 80,000 square-feet when it is needed, will make the facility nearly four times larger than the Kaiser Permanente location at Highlands Ranch Parkway and Lucent Boulevard in Highlands Ranch.

The building will be constructed roughly one mile north of Kaiser’s latest partner, Sky Ridge Medical Center, offering easy access for patients. The project application will be submitted to Douglas County’s development review department because the building will be in unincorporated county territory, just on the edge of Lone Tree. Company officials will decide later whether to apply for annexation into Lone Tree.

The centralized location of the facility, coupled with access to light rail, Sky Ridge and a major interstate, was a big reason for the decision to pursue vacant land near the RTD station. Kaiser closed the deal May 18 to acquire a 20-acre parcel west of the light rail station and a 5-acre lot to the south.

“What better place than I-25 and Lincoln at the end of a light rail station to open a new facility?” Lyon said.

Many metro-area leaders are already touting the importance of the project to the local economy.

“This announcement is great news for the health and wellness of our community and the health of our economy,” said Tom Clark, executive vice president of the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp.

Lyon declined to disclose the amount of investment the company plans to make in the project.

Kaiser Permanente is planning to develop five new offices in the Denver metro area over the next four years. The expansion, one of the largest in the company’s 40-year history in Colorado, comes on the heels of significant membership growth during tough economic times. Since 2007, membership grew 7.2 percent to more than 519,000, making Kaiser the fourth largest health plan in the state. Lyon said a focus on incentivizing health and wellness and preventative measures has lowered costs for the company, which in turn has offered services at a smaller price.

The company is attempting to balance its heavy presence in the north end of Denver with more facilities to the south. The newly announced building will house gastroenterology, orthopedics, out-patient surgery, pharmacy, laboratory and radiology services.

Lyon predicts that the vast share of jobs at the new location will go to Douglas County residents. Hiring will likely begin in summer 2013. He also expects the complex to enhance the area with the quality architecture of its building and surrounding landscaping. The facility could become a catalyst for other businesses, such as restaurants, to open nearby.

Kaiser Permanente opened a 17,000-square-foot medical building in Parker in May last year, and is currently evaluating sites to lease or purchase in the Castle Rock area with hopes of opening in early 2011.