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HOSPITAL ACQUIRES KEY SITE

It'll allow All Children's to erect a larger, more efficient office building.

As its massive new nine-story hospital continues to take shape in downtown St. Petersburg, All Children's Hospital has acquired property across the street to expand a planned office building.

A medical office building had been included in the ongoing multi-phase expansion, but the hospital foundation did not have a uniform piece of property on which to build it.

Hospital staff recently worked out a deal to relocate the office of Dr. Frank Mendelblatt at 534 Sixth Ave. S. They say it will allow them to build larger and more efficiently.

"We would have had to build around that office," said Tim Strouse, the hospital's vice president of facilities operations. "Now we'll have a building that's more rectangular with better flow and more usable space."

The hospital is seeking permission from the city today to adjust its plans for the $310-million project to renew and reorient its facilities.

The practice the new office building will replace has been the family ophthalmology practice of three generations of Mendelblatts since 1957, said Dr. Frank Mendelblatt, who runs the office now. He said All Children's said he would have a new building to move into early next year in exchange for his land.

"I'm sort of sentimental toward this part of town," he said, noting his father, David, started the practice that Frank now shares with his son, David. "I like the neighborhood and enjoy working with All Children's and Bayfront.

The new hospital under construction across the street already reaches six stories but will be at its full height by November, Strouse said. It's already visible from area highways and Strouse expects it to become a city landmark for miles in every direction.

The hospital will connect by enclosed pedestrian bridge to Bayfront Medical Center, which will lease a floor for its obstetrics unit.

Bayfront is also completing its own improvements, including a new heart center leased on a floor of a new building across Sixth Street from the new All Children's. Bayfront also added 10 new operating rooms, new intensive care facilities, new laboratories, and is building an eight-story garage.

When All Children's project is completed in 2009, the new facilities will relocate the nucleus of the campus several blocks north, while repurposing older buildings for other needs. Strouse said the whole effort is in response to patient demands.

"We're here for our community and we try to listen to our owners," he said of the nonprofit facility.

Paul Swider can be reached at 892-2271 or pswider@sptimes.com or by participating in itsyourtimes.com.

Project highlights

HOSPITAL A nine-story building will house 240 beds on the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue S and Sixth Street. Cost: $205-million. Size: 690,000 square feet. Completion date: Fall 2009.

MEDICAL OFFICES

A seven-story building that will include a Ronald McDonald House, a parent resource center, a clinical testing lab and a conference center on the southwest corner of Sixth Avenue S and Fifth Street. Cost: $55-million. Size: 270,000 square feet. Completion date: Fall 2009.

PARKING GARAGE The 760-space garage on the northwest corner of Seventh Avenue S and Fifth Street will have walkways that connect it to the hospital and medical office building. Cost: $11-million. Size: Five stories. Completion date: Spring 2008.

POWER PLANT

The plant at Eighth Avenue S and Fifth Street is designed to power the entire medical campus. Cost: $42-million. Size: 66,000 square feet. Completion date: Will open in spring 2008, but not be fully operational until later that year.

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