Saint Mary’s starts $160 million expansion |

Saint Mary’s starts $160 million expansion

John Seelmeyer

On the face of it, the orientation of the parking structure to be built at the new Saint Mary’s Health System campus isn’t a big deal.

Originally, the long face of the parking structure was designed to face Ralston Street, but its placement on the site was rotated 90 degrees during the planning process and the structure now faces Elm Street instead.

The upshot? Instead of blocking out the nearby residents with the massive walls of a six-story parking structure, the Saint Mary’s campus will provide an open, park-like look to pedestrians and motorists.

The mass of the parking garage will face only the mass of a similar structure across Elm Street.

And the open look is important to Daniel Gonda, who oversees construction projects for Saint Mary’s, and other executives of the health-care organization.

For one thing, the park-like look helped win the support of neighborhood groups as Saint Mary’s sought city approval for the $160 million expansion project.

The medical project is the biggest redevelopment effort in downtown Reno in nearly 25 years and is the first building expansion undertaken by Saint Mary’s since 1981.

But more important, Gonda said last week, Saint Mary’s officials believe the park-like plaza areas just west of the existing hospital will help make a statement about Saint Mary’s mission that a health network that cares this much about good design will care just as much about good medical care.

The work that began last week on the block bordered by Elm, Sixth, Arlington and Ralston streets will be dominated by a the six-story, 215,000-square-foot Medical Plaza at Saint Mary’s.

The building will include several floors of office space for physicians along with a laboratory, diagnostic imaging, and radiation- oncology facilities.

A 6,000-squarefoot wellness center, include health, fitness and rehabilitation facilities, also will be part of the building.

The Medical Plaza at Saint Mary’s will be developed and managed by Ensemble Real Estate Services LLC of Phoenix.

The next phase of the construction project will be construction of a 40,000- square-foot, 50-bed emergency room, followed by construction of a new west tower for patient care.

The entire project is scheduled for completion in September 2007.

That will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the origin of Saint Mary’s.

With the construction of 450,000 square feet of space, Saint Mary’s will double its downtown presence.

The Medical Plaza at Saint Mary’s and the west campus expansion were designed by James Leary Architecture and Planning of San Diego.

Q&D Construction of Reno will provide construction management of the project.

About 350 workers and 16 subcontractors are expected to be employed.

Saint Mary’s said about $115 million of the $160 million it has budgeted for the project will be spent locally.

The remainder will be spent with vendors outside the area, largely for equipment.