Medical office next to Arroyo Grande hospital gets go-ahead

This rendering shows the front entrance to the proposed medical office building off Fair Oaks Avenue in Arroyo Grande.
This rendering shows the front entrance to the proposed medical office building off Fair Oaks Avenue in Arroyo Grande.

A proposed three-story medical office building got the thumbs up from the Arroyo Grande Planning Commission on Tuesday night, and is scheduled to head before the City Council in the coming weeks.

The Planning Commission voted 4-1, with commissioner John Mack dissenting, to recommend the City Council approve plans for the John J. Wills Medical Center at Fair Oaks Avenue and Woodland Drive, next to Arroyo Grande Community Hospital. The 45,000-square-foot building is phase two of a mixed-use project approved by the city in 2008. The first phase consisted of the 30-home Walnut Grove neighborhood off Fair Oaks Avenue.

Triple P LLC, which is proposing the project, has said the office building will be part of the hospital campus, with hospital activities leasing about half of the office space within the building, according to a city staff report.

Representatives of Arroyo Grande Community Hospital supported the project as a good location to house some of its medical offices and expanded services, though CEO Charles Cova noted that the hospital has not yet officially received approval for any expansion.

“The proximity of the proposed (medical office building) to Arroyo Grande Community Hospital would provide an ideal location for medical professionals to deliver much needed medical services to the community,” Cova wrote in a letter to the city. “In addition, we are currently investigating the expansion of certain medical services that are instrumental to the hospital such as physician offices, infusion services, imaging and laboratory centers. As part of this expansion, Arroyo Grande Community Hospital anticipates that it will have space needs both on and off of our hospital campus.”

If approved by the City Council, the office would be one of the tallest buildings in the city, standing between 45 feet, 5.25 inches and 47 feet, 5.25 inches high, according to planning documents. City code caps buildings at 45 feet, but makes allowances for architectural, mechanical or utility elements that extend up to 15 feet above that height.

Commissioner Mack voted against recommending the project because he felt the roof extended above the height limitation, and shouldn’t qualify for an exception.

“The majority of the panel thought that the metal roof surrounding the building could be classified as a mechanical element,” he told The Tribune on Wednesday. “I’ve been doing building for 25 years; to me, if it looks like a parapet it is parapet. If it looks like a roof, it’s a roof — that’s the top of the structure, in my opinion.”

The project will go before the City Council for final approval in the next two months.