Baptist Health gets OK to build Miami Beach facility

Mount Sinai Medical Center had opposed and lobbied against the outpatient complex

Jul.July 28, 2015 06:00 PM

An outpatient and medical office complex proposed by developer Russell Galbut and Baptist Health South Florida for Alton Road and Seventh Street in Miami Beach is moving full steam ahead.

Wednesday afternoon, the Miami Beach Planning Board voted 6-1 to grant Galbut-affiliated South Beach Heights II permission to build the 122,000-square-foot facility, six months after delaying a decision following objections from Mount Sinai Medical Center, the city’s largest medical provider. Board member Jeffrey Feldman gave the lone ‘no’ vote.

In addition to an urgent care center, and diagnostics, ambulatory surgery, and physical therapy offices, the project also includes 175 parking spaces and 3,800 square feet of ground floor retail space on what is currently a one-acre parking lot. The city previously approved the site as a mix of retail and regular office spaces.

Earlier this year, the developer asked to include 36,900 square feet of medical uses after Baptist expressed interest in leasing the property from South Beach Heights II.

However, officials from Mount Sinai raised concerns about traffic congestion that would be created by the proposed Baptist facility. The Miami Beach-based hospital hired consultants to examine the impacts of new medical building, including an analysis by traffic expert Stephen Bryan that states the structure would result in poor traffic flow from an exit on Eighth Street.

According to planning board members, they have been heavily lobbied by Baptist supporters and opponents in recent weeks. Board members Jonathan Beloff and Randy Gumenick said they separately met with Galbut, Baptist executives, Mount Sinai President and CEO Steven Sonenreich, and Mount Sinai Medical Center Foundation Executive Director Michael Milberg.

All seven board members said they received automated calls about the project, as well as a letter from Mount Sinai Chairman Wayne Chaplin claiming the Baptist facility would be “intrusive and disruptive” to the residential neighborhood.

Graham Penn, an attorney representing Galbut and Baptist, told the board his clients willingly footed the bill for an independent analysis of the operational plan and traffic study for the planned outpatient facility.

The analysis by Innova Healthcare Solutions concluded that the “[Baptist operational] plan accurately depicts the functioning of a typical outpatient center commonly found in all manner of cities across the country.”

“We have developed the most extensive operational plan ever seen and Baptist paid for independent peer review, something has never been asked of anyone in the city,” Penn said. “We think there is a definite clear reduction in impact to the neighborhood.”

Ana Lopez Blasquez, Baptist’s chief strategy officer, said the company’s operational plan is based on real-time data gathered from its other outpatient facilities in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. She affirmed that the building will not provide 24-hour emergency services. Instead, most of the medical services Baptist will offer will be scheduled patient visits primarily during regular business hours.

The urgent care center will operate seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., but will not be accepting ambulances, Lopez Blasquez said.

“Based on our real time actual experience at the numerous facilities we run, the peak times are going to be between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.,” she said. “During those peak times, the max number of patients is about 90 patients.”

Sonenreich told The Real Deal that Mount Sinai would not challenge the ruling.

“Mount Sinai Medical Center respects the planning board’s decision to approve the 709 Alton Road medical complex,” he said. “We believe the panel’s thorough review process will result in a facility that is more compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.”

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