RIVERVIEW — St. Joseph's Hospital-South is going to do more than heal the sick and mend the injured when it opens in early 2015.
Community and business leaders gathered at the Regent Tuesday heard that the hospital will spur jobs and be a boon for housing, restaurant and retail development.
Members of the Greater Riverview Chamber of Commerce listened closely as St. Joseph's Hospital-South president Scott Smith updated them on the hospital, scheduled to open in February.
Prior to his presentation, Smith told the Tampa Bay Times the hospital is a tremendous boost for the area.
"St. Joseph's will be a major economic engine in this market," he said.
Smith told the group the hospital is thrilled to add a hospital to the southern part of Hillsborough County. He said St. Joseph's leaders think it is a good location because the area is growing and underserved.
The complex's physician office building opened in July. The medical office building and hospital will open in 11 months and employ some 500 people. He estimated that half of the jobs would be internal hires and the rest outside hires.
The hospital's vast services will include 90 private patient rooms, 22 observation rooms, a 30-bed emergency center and maternity unit.
"We'll be a full-service hospital when we open," Smith said.
Smith said St. Joseph's took care to keep a lot of green space, so the 72-acre site will include walking trails and patient rooms will overlook nature views.
Tanya Doran, the chamber's executive director, said the project is one of the best things to happen to Riverview. Doran had a hard time hiding her enthusiasm about the hospital.
"It's huge," she said. "It's very exciting."
Doran said the hospital will give Riverview a new identity. No longer will it be known simply as a bedroom community of Tampa.
"We are making a solid foundation for an incredible community," she said.
Doran said the hospital will spur big stuff for Riverview. She ticked off a list of pluses: high-quality jobs, new housing subdivisions, additional quality restaurants and retail stores.
"It's smart growth," she said. "We want smart development."
Construction on the 352,000-square-foot hospital started in 2012. The hospital is on Simmons Loop Road, between Interstate 75 and U.S. 301.
St. Joseph's Hospital-South will be the newest hospital in the BayCare Health System in the Tampa Bay area. The others are: St. Joseph's Hospital, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital, St. Joseph's Women's Hospital, and St. Joseph's Hospital-North.
Monica Bennett can be reached at email@example.com.