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Cornelius News

$154 million project will be transformational

Rendering of Atrium Hospital in Cornelius

Aug. 9. By Dave Vieser | When Atrium announced the state’s approval of their 30-bed hospital in Cornelius last month, it represented a major step forward. The state had initially denied issuing a Certificate of Need (CON) for a new hospital but reversed its position after Atrium appealed.

What’s next is a thorough review by the town, including several public hearings and a Planning Board review. If approved, the hospital will be located at the southwest corner of Westmoreland Road and Hwy. 21.

Mayor Woody Washam believes the proposal will pass muster with the town. “The Atrium hospital in Cornelius is going to happen, after this board issued two resolutions of support. We have zero hospital beds right now in Cornelius and with a total population of approximately 150,000 in the entire Lake Norman area, we are short of beds now in my opinion.”

Atrium owns a total of 110 acres, including the Tenders site, but not Lake Norman Tractor.

Specific plans have yet to be submitted to the town but suffice to say the property is a trophy in the world of economic development.

Once a farm, it was acquired for $34 million by a Scottsdale, Ariz. developer shortly before the real estate crash in 2008. The plans back then called for a 1.4 million-square-foot mixed-use project dubbed Augustalee. The $40 million development—and a new Exit 27—fell by the wayside during the Great Recession.

Flash forward to 2021 and roads are certain to get close attention, including Hwy. 21. The busy two-lane thoroughfare was scheduled to be widened within the next few years, but that project has now been pushed to 2031 or later.

Hwy. 21 widening calls for a “super-street intersection” as well as new right-turn lanes, but that’s all been dropped from the State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) “for the moment,” according to Wayne Herron, assistant town manager.

The town continues to lobby and talk with NCDOT about interim improvements, but none are approved or planned at this time.

The hospital project will require a Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA). It is not unusual for the town to ask developers to fund some road improvements in the vicinity of a project if DOT work isn’t to be done before it opens.

The $154 million hospital is expected to open in early 2024.

“With the population growth that has been taking place, this new hospital is a key piece of our mission to better meet the needs of residents in the area. Whether someone is having a baby, undergoing surgery or needs emergency care at any hour of the day or night, our expert physicians, nurses and support staff will be close-at-hand,” said Ken Haynes, Charlotte Region president for Atrium Health.

By the numbers

Atrium Hospital in Cornelius

30Licensed acute care beds

20 – Medical/surgical acute care beds

6 – Maternity suites

4 – Intensive care unit beds

8 – Observation beds

2 – Operating rooms, plus a C-section operating room

8 – Emergency department bays – including two for trauma cases

1 – Helipad