MT. COMFORT — Hancock Health is pursuing a plan meant to herald commercial developments on more than 100 acres at the Mt. Comfort/Interstate 70 interchange.

Filings with the Hancock County Area Plan Commission call the idea Hancock Gateway Park. It would span about 140 acres that Hancock Health owns between Mt. Comfort Road, County Road 700W, County Road 200N and I-70. It already is building a health center there.

Hancock Health is petitioning the plan commission to rezone that area as a planned unit development, which, if approved, would establish separate development rules for the area.

The plan envisions six different land uses in the area. More than 27 acres of it would be reserved for corporate and retail uses. A 1.57-acre section right off Mt. Comfort Road would be for convenience store uses. Interstate commercial — hospitality uses — would go on almost 18 acres. The 21.35 acres of institutional/commercial uses would be for properties associated with education, medical and life science services along with medical support and wellness services.

A medical/retail/office sector would cover over 24 acres. That’s where Hancock Health is planning a medical campus, which planning documents refer to as the nucleus of Hancock Gateway Park. Phase one of that campus is under way in the form of a two-story medical clinic slated to open this summer.

Over 16 acres would be open space, reserved for preserving existing natural outdoor features, maintaining or improving drainage and providing access to outdoor features for use and enjoyment.

Rob Matt, senior vice president of Hancock Regional Hospital and CEO of the Hancock Physician Network, called Mt. Comfort Road between McCordsville and New Palestine "a huge growth sector of Hancock County."

"We’re trying to position ourselves to be a part of that growth," Matt said.

Hancock Health has a facility in McCordsville and is building a new wellness center in New Palestine. Matt said coming to Mt. Comfort’s I-70 interchange is part of Hancock Health’s strategy of providing high-quality, low-cost health care to the western part of the county.

While developing that strategy, Hancock Health saw an opportunity to provide a gateway to the county through the development of the surrounding land, Matt said. The goal behind Hancock Gateway Park is to lead people into the county and create a catalyst for growth on the Mt. Comfort Corridor, he added.

Randy Sorrell, executive director of the Hancock Economic Development Council, said Hancock Health’s plan is not only a wise move in terms of its expansion strategy, but for economic development in that location and the entire county as well.

"What the hospital is wanting to do out there is a tremendous asset for the county at large and that area in particular," Sorrell said.

On Tuesday the Hancock County Commissioners gave the county’s redevelopment commission the OK to explore creating a tax increment financing district that would include Hancock Health’s proposed planned unit development area.

When a tax increment financing district is created, the amount of tax revenue generated up to that point continues going to taxing units while additional tax revenue resulting from new development can be used by redevelopment commissions to fund infrastructure improvements in the district.
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