|By Bob Shaw, Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
And today, seven years later,
The growth is so fast that the zone is overflowing, with plans for a new
"If you are a health care provider thinking about the east metro, nine times out of 10, you think about
The medical zone gets the credit, said
Most cities would love to have more medical facilities, developer Young said. They are conveniently located for local patients, and they bring high-paying and high-prestige jobs.
"Medical is one of those crown jewels of development," Young said.
But in luring medical businesses,
It attracted the businesses by creating a new kind of zone, which designated a 120-acre area to be a "medical campus district."
The idea for the zone began with the opening of Woodwinds hospital in 2000, alongside two smaller health-related businesses.
That's when officials saw the potential of the area, said
"We have the demographics that health care providers like," Schmitz said.
That means a fast-growing community with plenty of families and elderly people. She said the household income in
To study the issue, the city hired
McComb concluded that there was strong local demand for more medical services. He also spotted a trend -- the medical industry was decentralizing by moving into smaller clinics closer to customers, near retail outlets and malls.
But how, he was asked, could zoning be used to encourage medical development?
Normally, zoning is used to create neighborhoods, so farmland and malls and houses aren't all mixed together. But it's rare for cities to create a zone for certain kinds of businesses.
McComb said that creating a medical zone could not force developers to invest their money, but it would call attention to
The city established the zone, called the "medical campus district," in 2007.
Development began, and it hasn't stopped yet.
"It is that synergy. Once the ball gets rolling, it builds on itself," said city planner Schmitz.
Doctors liked to be close to clinics, and close to other businesses. Patients found it convenient to have clinics and therapists grouped together. And everyone liked the easy access to
"It is one of the biggest medical massings in the east-metro area," Young said.
The zone has a halo effect -- where other
For example, Children's Hospitals is moving out of the zone. It plans to vacate its space in
"I think it will be great," Young said.
-- A family clinic at
-- A new clinic in the Oak Center, in an existing building north of Woodwinds. Work on the project should begin in
-- A cancer center in the west wing of Woodwinds, opening early next year.
"The zone," said
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