Originally created 03/17/04

Building fills fast; twin site scouted



There has been so much interest in University Hospital's new physician office building in Evans that officials are now scouting a second site for a "twin" building.

But the new construction is not a buildup to a full-fledged hospital, an official said.

At its quarterly meeting Tuesday, University Health Inc. board members were briefed on progress in the $8.7 million, 61,000-square-foot medical office building that recently opened on University's Columbia County campus off North Belair Road.

Four tenants are already in, five are renovating, and two more have a lease pending, which would make the building 92 percent occupied by early summer, said Kyle Howell, the vice president for support and facilities. That would put the building two years ahead of schedule, he said. And the calls are still coming, Mr. Howell said.

"We're getting more demand for the building than we have square footage," he said. A diagnostic center is already envisioned next to the building, and a "twin" office building would likely go next to it at a right angle to the original building, Mr. Howell said.

Parking might become a problem on the 60-acre campus, Mr. Howell said.

"We may have to add a deck."

Columbia County officials last year said one of Augusta's hospitals was interested in building a new hospital there. All the facilities denied any interest in building a new hospital, which would require a certificate of need from the state that could be objected to and blocked by another provider.

"It would be a chore," Mr. Howell said. The current main hospital campus is only 11 miles from the Evans outpost, he said.

"This is totally outpatient-focused," Mr. Howell said.

Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213

or tom.corwin@augustachronicle.com.