BILLINGS - St. Vincent Healthcare takes another step in its plans to build a new hospital.
The new hospital building would require the city to vacate part of a road and an alley.
The Billings City Council voted to allow St. Vincent Healthcare to take over that land on Monday night.
St. Vincent Healthcare announced in June it would build a new hospital on its property near 11th Avenue North, Poly Drive, and North 27th Street.
To make that happen, hospital management asked the city tovacate 12th Avenue Northbetween North 27th Street and North Broadway and an alley.
"The footprint will be about 850,000 square feet," Krikor Jansezian, St. Vincent chief operating officer, told the city council. "The space that we need to continue building the hospital south towards 11th and then the remainder will be the flat parking structure."
"We did hold neighborhood meetings," Rick Leuthold, Sanderson Stewart chairman, said at the meeting. "We did not have any opposition to either the hospital project as a whole or to the vacation of these particular rights of way."
City management submitted written comments about how the closing of the street and alley might affect city services.
Rusty Logan, MET transit manger, stated: "Congestion will continue to increase on both North 27th and North 30th directly affecting on time performance for routes in the area, as well as overall walkability and connectivity for the neighborhoods on either side of the corridor."
Bill Tatum, Billings fire marshal, states: "Vacating 12th Avenue North causes potential access issues, especially for a high rise building the hospital and the ability to use our ladder truck in an emergency situation. Without a definitive site plan, it's difficult to determine the extent of how the vacation would affect our operations."
Billings Police Chief Rich St. John's stated: "No issues for PD."
The city council also had some questions.
"We're all confident we can fix those, why?," Council member Jennifer Owen asked.
"They were confident that they will be able to access or they will require access during that building permit process," said Debi Meling, city of Billings director of public works.
"Is there a precedent in our city of un-vacating or reverse vacating?," Councilman Ed Gulig asked.
"In the last 20 years, no, we haven't seen that happen," Meling said.
St. Vincent would pay more than $1 million for the property.
And Leuthold, who is part of the design team, said it may take three to five years to get the plans approved.