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Archive for Thursday, April 22, 1999

COLUMBIA ABANDONS HOSPITAL SITE

April 22, 1999

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Looks like Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp.'s plans for building a for-profit hospital in northwest Lawrence are dead.

Property at the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Folks Road -- where Columbia has fought for years to build a $20 million, for-profit hospital -- now is being targeted as the site for a new shopping center.

The owners of the 30.6-acre tract this week applied for permission to build the center in three phases. The first would put 85,000 square feet of retail space, including a bank, on 10 acres by spring 2001.

The remainder would be set aside for 40,000 square feet of retail shops and services, plus another 40,000 square feet of professional offices. Those phases would wait until the springs of 2003 and 2004, respectively.

Why the change in plans? Price Banks, attorney for the Bauer sisters, who own the land, said the property's current agricultural use had become impractical. And more shopping would be good for the neighborhood and city as a whole, he said.

"Other uses have been denied," Banks said, referring to the city's refusal to grant Columbia a permit for a new hospital.

A Columbia official declined Wednesday to discuss the future of her company's dwindling stake in Lawrence.

Last week, Columbia confirmed it was closing its ambulatory surgery center. Wednesday, it confirmed it was discarding its physical therapy center.

-- Mark Fagan

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