BY Molly Congdon
CLIFTON PARK — Medical offices have been popping up all over Clifton Park, becoming quite a trend in the last few years, as roughly $70 million has been spent in the health care sector within town.
A plan calling for the construction of a new 60,000-square-foot medical office building at 1783 Route 9, between Zappone Motors and the Oakbrook Commons apartments, was offered March 2 by Columbia Development Group to the Clifton Park Planning Board.
“The Clifton Park demographic is solid and growing. Everybody is trying to plant their flag in the Clifton Park market, as far as health care is concerned,” said Rick Rosen, vice president of Columbia Development Group. “It’s been a recent trend there.”
The location is ideal for Southern Saratoga County residents.
“We like the Route 9 corridor for its ease of access,” Rosen said. “This is an area we feel the patients will be able to get to very easily, right off Exit 9, and it’s in the travel paths of all of the people who live in Clifton Park.”
If the Planning Board approves, the offices would be built on five acres of a nine-acre parcel owned by Chuck Hoffman of Oakbrook Commons.
“Hoffman signed an owner authorization for Columbia Development Group,” said John Scavo, the town director of planning. “One question the Planning Board will be asking is, on the nine-acre site, the remaining four acres, what do they have in mind for that? We will try to tease that out.”
Even though Columbia Development doesn’t specialize in medical offices, it has specialists in that realm of development on their team.
“We have a whole division in construction that specializes in that, because in our opinion it is a specialty-type construction with knowing the latest Department of Health laws, the [Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act] laws and the diagnostic equipment that’s going into these facilities. You need people with experience in the field,” Rosen said. “We have people who are dedicated to just doing medical [projects].”
Columbia is currently finishing up the medical office building for New York Oncology and Hematology, which is going to start seeing patients in May.
“Health care was an underserved sector within the community, and as the population has grown in Southern Saratoga County, that gap increased and the health care providers are responding to the population,” Scavo said. “They are meeting the needs of the area.”
The approval process typically takes three to six months, and the project was to be formally presented to the Planning Board for the first time at its March 24 meeting.
“I’m very confident that the applicant will be able to meet all the design concerns that the town may have and work on the engineering to accommodate for traffic, storm water, general site development and infrastructure,” Scavo said. “It’s an allowed use for the code, so the burden is on the applicant to show that they are meeting the town criteria for design standards, and then it’s the Planning Board’s job to look at any potential environmental impacts.”
In the last decade, storm water management — the control of large amounts of runoff during storms — has been a hot issue, and town regulations were altered just this year.
“There’s a new permit this year that requires green infrastructure practices be evaluated as part of any site plan,” Scavo explained. “The soils are predominantly sandy, but when you’re introducing an impervious surface you still have to be conscious of storm water.”
The biggest benefit to bringing in another medical office is that it will help everyone save on something there never seems to be enough of — time.
“It will reduce commute time for Southern Saratoga County residents who may have to travel down the Northway now for doctor visits. With satellite offices in this area, it would end that commute,” Scavo said. “That’s what we’ve seen with the other medical facilities recently, reduced commute times.”
The name of the tenant will not be released until a lease has been signed.
“It’s a very well-known, established health care provider in the area that has been a client of ours before,” Rosen said. “They are looking to do a consolidated expansion in Clifton Park.”
If approved, they would like to start construction this summer. The overall project, including land, site work, the building itself and the interior, would cost about $15 million.