The Cincinnati Planning Commission has approved a $650 million expansion of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Avondale.
The plan includes an eight-story tower, renovation of some existing space, a parking garage underneath the new tower, and expansion of another nearby parking garage.
Children's Hospital Chief Operating Officer Dr. Steve Davis told the Planning Commission Friday the project is needed because of significant growth in patients and services provided at the Avondale campus.
Davis said Cincinnati Children's is now the second largest children's hospital in the United States.
The hospital said the expansion will net about 120 news beds to the existing campus. Cardiovascular and fetal operating rooms will be embedded in the cardiac intensive care unit and neonatology intensive care units.
"Having all of those services next to each other is absolutely vital to deliver the safest care," Davis said.
The plan also includes a new emergency department, expanded loading dock, expanded pharmacy, and more kitchen and dining space.
The project will be done in phases and take five years to complete.
The Planning Commission voted five-nothing on three items to allow the project to proceed. Those include:
- The vacation and sale of approximately 2.5 acres of city-owned right-of-way for portions of Erkenbrecher Avenue, Hearne Avenue, and Wilson Avenue. Erkenbrecher will be closed and re-routed to accommodate the new tower.
- Rezoning properties from RMX (residential mixed) to IR (institutional residential).
- A major amendment to the concept plan and rezoning property immediately north of Erkenbrecher Avenue between Burnet Avenue and Harvey Avenue. This is the location where a current parking garage will be expanded.
The hospital is working to assist five to eight families who will be displaced when their homes are taken for the project. Children's Hospital already, either directly and indirectly, owns the properties needed for the expansion.
Some Avondale residents are opposed to the plan. They expressed concerns about traffic circulation, health concerns, parking issues, and the lack of community outreach by Children's Hospital officials.
"To date there has been no participation that we know of by the community in the multiple years of planning this proposed massive development," said Patricia Milton with the Avondale Community Council. "Community participation is required in the design and scale of any development planning in our neighborhood."
Rahshann Blackwell grew up in the Avondale neighborhood and is also opposed to the Children's expansion project.
"I don't want to see it (the neighborhood) become more of a commercial area," Blackwell said.
Now that the Planning Commission has approved the proposal, it moves on to city council. The Neighborhoods committee will hold a public hearing on the plan, likely in the Avondale neighborhood, in August or September.
A city lawyer said it will take five council members to approve the Children's expansion, and six votes would be necessary to make changes to what the Planning Commission approved.