Martinsburg, W.Va., hospital buys land for future growth

By MIKE LEWIS
mlewis@crossroadsbizjournal.com

Submitted image
This map provided by the Berkeley County (W.Va.) Assessor’s Office shows about 75 acres off Tavern Road comprised of two parcels just north of the Berkeley Medical Center campus in Martinsburg, W.Va.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — WVU Medicine Berkeley Medical Center recently closed two deals to buy about 75 acres off Tavern Road.

Taken together, the deals total $1.6 million.

“It’s basically just for future expansion,” Teresa E. McCabe, the hospital’s vice president of marketing and development, said. “… We have no place for future growth on the existing campus.”

McCabe said the current campus houses the 195-bed hospital, three medical office buildings and a WVU health services building. There is space for one more medical office building, which is in the hospital’s strategic plan.

“We’ve grown so much, particularly since we became a part of WVU medicine in 2005,” McCabe said.

That growth sent hospital officials in seach for options.

“We have been looking over the past year, I would say,” McCabe said. “Within the last six months, we pretty much narrowed it down to this particular parcel.”

The property is across Tavern Road from the hospital campus, near the Martins Landing apartment complex, the Bethel Pentecostal Assembly of God and Tuscarora Elementary School.

According to Berkeley County deed records, the hospital paid:

• $1,483,479 to Stonegate Arch Acquisition LLC for about 70 acres north of the apartment complex. This parcel does not have access to Tavern Road.

• $116,521 to Jackson Hills Acquisition LLC for about 5 acres, basically between the apartment complex and the church property. McCabe said this strip of land provides access from Tavern Road to the larger parcel.

The paperwork shows the deeds being transferred to City Hospital Inc. That remains the official name of the hospital organization for legal purposes, McCabe said.

At its June 14 meeting, the Martinsburg City Council approved changing the parcels’ zoning designations to community business, as requested by the hospital.

Previously, the larger parcel had been zoned as planned residential. That classification doesn’t permit all of the uses that are being contemplated by the hospital, according to the zoning application.

The zoning change would allow the hospital to dedicate the property for medical-center expansion and “associated support uses including, but not limited to, hospital-based wellness center, medical-office complex and long-term care services, including skilled-nursing facility, assisted-living facility (and) independent living,” according to the health care provider’s application.

The smaller parcel had been zoned as service-business. The application states that the zoning change would “support uses including a medical-office complex and associated support uses, including restaurants and coffeehouses.”

The service-business zoning would “unduly limit the signage permitted on the property, negatively impacting the intended use of the property,” the application states.

In May, city council members signaled an interest in having discussions with the medical center about establishing a partnership to build an indoor aquatic facility. Steve Catlett, executive director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation board, told council the project could take shape on the 75 acres.

McCabe stressed that no decisions have been made about use of the land.

“That (aquatic center) is not in our immediate strategic plan,” she said.

Herald-Mail Media reporter Matthew Umstead contributed to this report.