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Published Tue, Oct 09, 2012 08:00 PM
Modified Tue, Oct 09, 2012 03:21 PM

Clayton’s medical corridor set to grow

- rputterman@newsobserver.com
Spring Branch Retail and Office Park on N.C. 42 West has received approval to build a second 30,000-square-foot building like this one for medical office space.
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- rputterman@newsobserver.com

CLAYTON -- In just a few years, all the health care needs you can imagine could be met along one strip of N.C. 42 West.

At least, that’s the town’s vision for the segment of 42 between Amelia Church Road and U.S. 70 Bypass.

Surrounding Johnston Medical Center Clayton will be numerous medical commercial offices, an assisted living facility, a nursing home, and apartments and retail to serve the employees working in the area.

As of now, that goal is on its way to becoming a reality as one medical office park continues its construction, a second looks to begin, and the hospital plans to expand.

“I don’t think we’ve realized the full potential out there,” Town Manager Steve Biggs said. “We’re still in the early part of that first wave.”

Next to the hospital, Spring Branch Retail and Office Park is set to begin construction on its second two-story, 30,000-squre-foot medical office building.

The first one is already complete with Duke Medicine as one of the tenants. A 77-bed assisted living facility is also under construction on the property.

That development is set to grow in phases to cover 50 acres with more medical office buildings, townhouses, restaurants and retail.

Town planning director David DeYoung says that what’s driving the growth is the expansion of the hospital. As part of a $20 million expansion, the hospital is relocating 27 in-patient beds from Johnston Memorial Hospital in Smithfield and is awaiting approval of a transfer of 23 more beds.

With in-patient services, an additional operating room and an expansion of emergency services, the hospital will have a larger impact and attract more specialists to the Clayton area. “It’s those 50 beds that are driving it,” DeYoung said.

Johnston Health is also looking to expand on its own property beyond the hospital. With room for potential medical office buildings and a nursing home facility, the town council approved the property to be rezoned in September as planned development mixed use to allow for that development.

Attracting tenants

Across the street, the Health Park at 42 West has been approved to move forward on construction of five medical office buildings, totaling 70,000 square feet. Right now, the developer is waiting to meet leasing levels before breaking ground.

“I think it will take a while for that area to absorb that kind of square footage. But we are having a lot of interest, and we’re in discussions with several groups,” said Jay Johnson, the developer of Health Park at 42 West.

Johnson said the hospital is certainly the reason behind the demand for medical office buildings in the 42 West area.

“I think (the hospital) is a big driver there, no doubt about it. They have surgical facilities that are useful to medical practitioners, and we have a doctor/physician base beneficial to the hospital,” Johnson said.

He added that his company has been in discussion with hospital administration to set common goals for developing an office park with the kind of practitioners and specialists that would be mutually beneficial.

Biggs said he hopes the medical offices will be complimentary of each other and bring a diversity of services. “We need to be careful not to duplicate services, but there’s a lot of specialists that we need here,” he said.

Despite the current development, there’s still an extensive amount of land along 42 West to be developed both as further medical office parks and the retail and restaurants to serve that growing community.

The town is planning on doing an infrastructure analysis of the 42/70 area to determine what improvements are necessary to foster continued growth.

“What we can do is plan for infrastructure to support future development,” DeYoung said.

Putterman: 919-553-7234

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  • A 77-bed assisted living facility is under construction on the Spring Branch property.
    REBECCA PUTTERMAN - rputterman@newsobserver.com

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