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MAPLE GROVE, MN-A new hospital here is yet another major development project left in limbo by the expected quick adjournment this week of the Minnesota Legislature once it passes a $30-billion budget.

After a draining fight over the state budget, which resulting in a state shutdown this month, state legislators plan to pass the budget and go home for the summer. As GlobeSt.com reported earlier this week, that would put on hold proposals for a new ballpark for the Minnesota Twins and a new on campus football stadium for the University of Minnesota. There is talk of another special session to deal with these issues this fall, but nothing has been set.

Approval for a new hospital in Maple Grove, which is required because the state has a moratorium on new hospitals, also will be left hanging, perhaps a victim of the hot contention among the three hospital systems vying for the project. While there is little argument that a hospital is needed for the fast-growing area, the process by which a hospital operator would be selected has proved divisive.

The three hospital operators vying to build a new hospital are Fairview Health Services, North Memorial Health Care, and a group called the Maple Grove Tri-Care Partnership, which consists of Allina Hospitals & Clinics, Park Nicollet Health Services, and Children’s Hospitals and Clinics.

A House bill awarded construction approval to North Memorial Health Care, in part due to the proximity of its existing facilities. But legislation passed by the Senate would instead refer the decision to the Minnesota Department of Health, who would rank the three contenders by various criteria, including mental health care, services for seniors and pediatrics and charity care. Attempts to reach a compromise were unsuccessful.

The Maple Grove Tri-Care Partnership proposes to build a $72-million, 60- to 100-bed hospital near the Interstate Hwy. 94 corridor at 97th Avenue and Dunkirk Lane. The group says it could develop a hospital of up to 250 beds eventually on the 84-acre site, which includes 34 acres of wetlands that would remain undeveloped.

“It is time to break the stalemate and approve legislation that establishes a selection process, for which more than 60% of legislators have already voted,” says Alan Goldbloom, president and CEO of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, part of the Tri-Care Partnership.

Fairview has a $106-million proposal before the Health Department for a hospital and a clinic and cancer center. Fairview says the provider intends to proceed this year with the $46-million, 126,000-sf clinic and cancer center regardless of the legislative outcome on the hospital proposal. Right after the health department’s report, Fairview officials said their organization could open a hospital faster than its two competitors. The hospital would have 72 to 100 beds and be at least 146,000 sf. Fairview expects that up to 284 beds would be needed over the next 10 to 15 years.

North Memorial has a $117-million outpatient clinic and hospital on the books as part of a 157-acre retail and medical development proposed by Ryan Cos. The $59-million first phase includes a 70,000-sf medical office building and a 105,000-sf outpatient center that would proceed this spring, according to North Memorial officials.

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