New children’s hospital to be built on Riverside Ave.

The new facility will consolidate children’s services, as well as facilitate research.

Anna Ewart

Today, the Minneapolis Zoning and Planning Committee will settle the last of several issues relating to the construction of a new University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital, Fairview.

The committee will decide whether to allow Fairview Health Services to take over portions of Seventh Street South and 24th Avenue South along Riverside Avenue. If approved, the measures would go to the full City Council on Feb. 1.

Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon, whose district includes the area where the hospital will be constructed, said some neighborhood residents have voiced concerns that the hospital would aggravate the parking and traffic situation in the neighborhood. However, Fairview has made an effort to discuss these issues with the community.

“They seem very supportive about exploring future solutions and ideas,” he said.

Gordon also said Fairview seems interested in improving traffic signals and green spaces.

Paula Vollmar-Heywood, a resident of the neighborhood where the hospital will be constructed, said Fairview has made an effort to discuss the hospital with residents of the small neighborhood, but it seems unlikely that any of their concerns will be addressed.

The proposed changes to the streets near the hospital would force residents to enter and exit their neighborhood through a single street, she said. People entering and exiting the hospital’s parking lot would also use this street.

“They’re going to do what they’re going to do,” Vollmar-Heywood said. “We didn’t agree with any of it.”

She said she hopes Fairview will work with the neighborhood to renovate Riverside Park and ease traffic flow problems.

Russ Williams, the vice president of patient experience at the hospital, said the hospital will be constructed over what is now a parking lot, along with an underground parking ramp for patients and their families.

The new hospital will consolidate existing children’s services, which are currently split between six different buildings, Williams said.

Frank Cerra, the senior vice president of the University’s Academic Health Center, said housing all children’s services in one building will mean better service for patients.

“Children just aren’t small adults,” he said. “They have special needs and their parents have special needs.”

Cerra also said the hospital will facilitate clinical research.

Although the $175 billion project will be funded by Fairview, Williams said it will serve the department of pediatrics, the University and Fairview because of recruitment benefits.

“Everyone loves to work in brand new space,”he said.

According to a department of pediatrics release, the new hospital will house 207 beds, a pediatric emergency room and several clinical pediatric programs, such as heart surgery and organ transplantation.

This project is part of $1 billion plan to modernize University and Fairview facilities.

Williams also said the hospital benefits from its partnership with the University.

“One of the big differences between this facility and any other children’s facility in the state is that this is an academic children’s hospital,” Williams said.