Groundbreaking could begin early in the spring for a new Franciscan Health Crown Point hospital poised to be at the center of an 500-acre development on the city’s southeast side.

The project is planned for the southeast corner of Interstate 65 and U.S. 231, which is currently home to Franciscan Health Franciscan Point and the University of St. Francis. The new regional medical center on 120 acres is part of the plan in addition to doubling the size of the USF campus and expansion of Franciscan Point’s ortho ambulance surgery center.

Additionally, a 60-acre parcel of land there will serve as a potential home for a new Andrean High School to replace the current building in Merrillville. Tonn and Blank Construction owns the land and is offering it to the Gary Diocese as a potential site for the new school, a release said.

Approximately 250 acres is also being reserved for residential development and Tonn and Blank Construction will be developing an additional 80 acres for commercial use, the release said.

“We’re thrilled to begin planning a comprehensive medical and educational development that will serve both body and mind,” said Cal Bellamy, chairman of the Board of Directors, Franciscan Alliance, Northern Indiana Division.

Crown Point Mayor David Uran called the project “a generational development that we haven’t seen in decades.”

“I’m proud that Franciscan Health has partnered to enhance the educational and health care needs of our great city,” he said in a release. “It will create new jobs and professions, including using our local trades and skilled labor force for the new construction involved, notwithstanding all the educational, medical, and nursing fields to be represented and expanded. It truly is an example of collaboration and vision that will benefit not only the City of Crown Point, but all surrounding communities as well.”

Andrew Kyres, president of the city’s Redevelopment Commission, said the announcement by the Franciscan group will be a catalyst for significant, long-term, economic development in the city and region.

“The end result will be numerous good paying positions within the facility itself and the ancillary development that will occur,” he said. “We anxiously anticipate the project’s launch and its ultimate completion.”

Dan Rohaley, a member of the city’s Plan Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals and an Advisory Board member of the University of St. Francis, said the plans as announced are “most exciting for the citizens of Crown Point and the entire region as a whole.”

The Gary Diocese released a statement saying they are “excited and grateful” to potentially be a partner in the endeavor.

The diocese said only the newly appointed bishop can render a final decision on a new Andrean project.

“However, as we continue to discuss and discern we ask for the continued support and prayers from the alumni, friends, and benefactors of Andrean High School and Catholic education,” the diocese said in the statement.

In February 2018, following a 10-month study, Bishop Donald Hying said that Andrean High School will remain in Merrillville at 5959 Broadway. The diocese at that time said it concluded that a financial campaign to fund priorities across its schools would be “broadly supported.”

Another, separate development near the Franciscan site is in the works for 109 acres at the northwest corner of Interstate 65 and U.S. 231.

Developers have called it an “unprecedented” commercial retail center being planned for the city called The Fountains of Crown Point, estimated at $150 million to $250 million. Initial plans call for two hotels, a bowling center, a theater, upscale and fast casual restaurants, a specialty grocery store, residential townhomes and a fire station.

As for the current Franciscan Health Crown Point hospital at 1201 S. Main St., officials said it will continue to provide healthcare for the community as the new site is developed.

Franciscan Alliance is exploring future uses for the present facility once the new hospital opens, slated for 2022.

“Our wonderful Main Street site is going to be a functioning asset for the community for many years to come,” said Franciscan Health Crown Point President and CEO Daniel McCormick, MD.
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