Oneida County Industrial Development Agency takes next step in possible eminent domain use for downtown Utica hospital

·3 min read

The Oneida County Industrial Development Agency (OCIDA) voted unanimously Friday morning to take the next steps in possibly securing the 411 Columbia St. parcel in Utica via eminent domain on behalf of the Mohawk Valley Health System (MVHS).

OCIDA voted Aug. 20, 2021 to have staff look into the legal right to use eminent domain to acquire the property, which is currently home to J.P. O’Brien Plumbing and Heating and is within the footprint of Wynn Hospital in downtown Utica.

However, Syracuse-based Bowers Development has a signed purchase agreement for the property, city officials said.

Last August, Bowers has said it would possibly seek legal remedy if OCIDA tried to take the parcel through eminent domain.

Representatives from Bower did not immediately return messages for comment.

On Friday, OCIDA voted to schedule a public hearing on the use of eminent domain on the parcel, which is the next step required in the process.

More: Downtown Utica hospital opponents lose court case over parking garage eminent domain

More: OCIDA looks at eminent domain to acquire Columbia Street property for Utica hospital

OCIDA officials said the parcel was “critical” for Wynn Hospital during brief comments on the matter.

Representatives from OCIDA declined to comment further, citing possible pending litigation.

It is worth noting that OCIDA — which is not affiliated with the county or Utica — is the one possibly pursuing the use of eminent domain. Also, OCIDA can only use eminent domain for profit, not for nonprofits.

This artist's rendering shows the front of the Mohawk Valley Health System's The Wynn Hospital, which is under construction in downtown Utica. The Wynn Family Foundation has given the health system a $50 million donation. Real estate developer Steve Wynn grew up in Utica.
This artist's rendering shows the front of the Mohawk Valley Health System's The Wynn Hospital, which is under construction in downtown Utica. The Wynn Family Foundation has given the health system a $50 million donation. Real estate developer Steve Wynn grew up in Utica.

Hospital plans

Hospital officials have said the Columbia Street property is imperative to the plans for a Medical Office Building (MOB) that have been in the works for years.

Darlene Stromstad, MVHS president and CEO said the hospital system, was extremely grateful to OCIDA and the Central Utica Building (CUB) - a group of local physicians who came together to develop the MOB - for moving ahead with the eminent domain proposal.

"The development of a MOB/ASC adjacent to The Wynn Hospital is crucial to the overall project because the services housed in this building complement the work being done in the hospital and work collaboratively to support each other," Stromstad said in a statement. "The MOB/ASC is planned to house multiple physician practices, and MVHS will lease space for an ambulatory surgery center, outpatient radiology and a laboratory patient service center.

"The overall plan for The Wynn Hospital was to construct the hospital as in inpatient facility and locate outpatient surgeries, services, and procedures in an MOB/ASC next to the hospital. Placing these services in the MOB/ASC not only allows for easy patient access, but it creates a significant cost saving for the project as it is much costlier to place these services within the hospital itself."

The hospital’s site plans include the property and other buildings in that space, which were chosen because it is across the street from Wynn Hospital, and there were ample sites for parking, officials said.

Hospital officials said the MOB is expected to house physician offices, an ambulatory surgery center, outpatient radiology and a laboratory patient service center.

In a past statement to the Observer-Dispatch, Bowers said their proposed medical office building is larger in structure and will include more medical service providers.

This is the highest and best use of the property, Bowers said last August.

This is a breaking news story and may be updated throughout the day.

Ed Harris is the Oneida County reporter for the Observer-Dispatch. Email Ed Harris at EHarris1@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Observer-Dispatch: Possible eminent domain use for Wynn Hospital moves forward