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December 18, 2018

MMC gets green light to move ahead on Congress Street expansion

Courtesy / Maine Medical Center
Courtesy / Maine Medical Center
A view of the six-story medical building that will reorient Maine Medical Center to Congress Street. MMC received Portland Planning Board approval Monday night for the project, which is the third and final phase of the hospital's $525 million expansion and modernization plan needing Planning Board approval.

Maine Medical Center received Portland Planning Board approval Monday night for a new, six-story medical building that will reorient the hospital to Congress Street.

The 265,000-square-foot addition also will expand private room offerings, and provide state-of-the-art procedure rooms centered on cardiovascular care, according to a MMC news release.

This is the third and final Portland Planning Board approval sought in MMC's $525 million expansion and modernization plan. This phase of the plan will complete the project's overall goal of improving the experience of patients and visitors to the hospital. It also will develop MMC's presence on the urban edge of the campus and provide convenient, safe and predictable parking for staff and the community.

Monday's approval covers the removal of the Gilman Street garage, MMC's staff parking facility that has reached the end of its useful life, and MMC's expansion into that space with a building featuring 64 modern, private patient rooms and cardiovascular care procedure rooms. Re-orienting the campus toward Congress Street will help ongoing efforts to revitalize this important city gateway, MMC stated in its news release, furthering the goals of the community and the city of Portland's Comprehensive Plan.

The Dec. 17 planning board hearing on the plan was completed in less than an hour and covered MMC's updates to its street plan. The updates responded to planning board concerns raised at a previous hearing.

MMC Chief Operating Officer Jeff Sanders and Director of Planning and Regulatory Compliance Alexander Green said the updated street plan included expanded sidewalks along Congress and Gilman streets, an added bike lane that's wider than typical bike lanes, additional street parking and striping for Gilman Street to formalize the lanes for MMC's employee shuttle drop-off.

In addition to over a dozen planning board hearings on the project, over the past two years, MMC has held 30 meetings with a neighborhood advisory group, Sanders noted. He said the hospital will continue to meet with the neighborhood group on a monthly basis to address any issues if they arise.

Gilman Street parking garage to be removed

Board members expressed appreciation for MMCs responsiveness to city and neighborhood concerns, and said MMC has set a high bar for creating a process by which a major project with considerable impact can be developed smoothly. Chairman Sean Dundon said the number of meetings "seems about right for a half-billion-dollar project." There was no public comment at the final hearing.

A series of project milestones must be met before construction on the new medical building can begin.

First, a new staff garage at 222 St. John St. must be completed. The planning board approved that project on Sept. 11 and site work began on Sept. 17. That garage is expected to be operational in 2020. When that garage is complete, the old staff garage at the corner of Gilman and Congress streets can be deconstructed, a process expected to take roughly six months.

When that site is cleared, MMC can begin construction of the new medical building, expected to begin in 2020 and be complete in 2022.

Other parts of the expansion and modernization project are well underway, the release said. That includes the addition of three stories (225 parking spaces) to MMC's patient and visitor garage, which was completed Sept. 10, months ahead of schedule.

Also underway is the construction of two additional floors onto Maine Med's East Tower. The new floors will hold 64 new oncology rooms and two new helipads. Maine Med expects to complete construction of the new East Tower patient floors later in 2019.

Read more

Maine Med plans to invest $300,000 in neighborhood parks

Gorman's family's $4M gift to create 'welcoming space' in MMC's expansion

Maine Med files third and final site plan for $525M expansion

Maine Med receives final approval for new parking garage

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