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ST. PAUL-Officials broke ground Friday on an $18-million, 100,000-sf specialty health care center on the north end of the United Hospital campus in St. Paul. The St. Paul Heart Clinic and Pulmonary Critical Care Associates will develop the building on the northwest corner of Smith and Chestnut streets, according to David Rothschiller, executive director of the St. Paul Heart Clinic.

The building was designed by KKE Architects and is being built by McGough Construction. “They needed to expand their physical facility and it was either build on our campus or move to the suburbs,” says Duke Adamski, president of the United Hospital Foundation.

Other private specialty practices in cardiac surgery, nephrology, infectious diseases, oncology and radiology will also likely lease space in the building, Rothschiller says. The center will eventually house about 125 physicians and 500 support staff, Rothschiller adds.

The new center is the second major specialty outpatient center to be announced in St. Paul in as many days. On Thursday, HealthPartners said it would build a $22-million, 130,000-sf specialty center near its Regions Hospital on the East Side of St. Paul.

Driving the expansion is an expected boom in patients. The number of people over the age of 60 will double as Baby Boomers age, and the incidence of heart disease is not expected to decline, Rothschiller says. Patients will get diagnosed and treated earlier and live longer, which will in turn ratchet up demand for specialty services, he adds.

One of the key tenants of the new center will be United Hospital’s neurosciences institute, which will take an entire floor of the four-story building. A major benefactor of that institute is John Nasseff, a former West Publishing executive who also helped pay for the John Nasseff Heart Center at United.

The two groups will move out of their 34,000 sf St. Paul Heart and Lung Center, a 18-year-old building that United Hospital has an option to buy or take over in a master lease deal. The new center will be attached on the north end of the heart and lung center building, which in turn is attached to north end of United Hospital’s Heart Hospital. United officials are negotiating to buy other property west and north of the new center for surface parking and future expansion, such as a parking ramp.The new center is expected to be ready in the spring of 2006.

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