The healthcare industry has changed dramatically in recent years and medical professionals and developers say Southlake needs a post-acute care facility where patients can recover from surgeries.
The reality that patients can only stay in hospitals for three days led Mainstreet Investments to propose the Healthcare Resort of Southlake, a 102-bed facility at Shady Lane and the westbound Texas 114 frontage road. Currently, patients are sent to facilities in Euless, Bedford or elsewhere.
"We have nothing like this in the area," said Dr. Marybeth Crane, who owns Foot and Ankle Associates of North Texas. "We send people all over the place."
But neighbors who live in far east Southlake showed up in droves to oppose the project, fearing it would increase traffic and kill too many trees.
Ultimately, the Southlake City Council sided with the neighbors, voting 7-0 Jan. 5 to reject the site plan, saying the 69,571-square-foot facility just doesn’t fit on that site. The decision came after hours of discussion that night and months of tinkering with the plan by Mainstreet Investments.
"It’s really too big for this lot," Councilman Gary Fawks said. "The math is never going to work out for any of us. This is a tough piece of property."
Councilman Brandon Bledsoe encouraged the developer to come back with a scaled down plan that fits the site rather than trying to force the site to fit the building.
"I would hope that the applicant would not give up on this deal and figure out a way to make the economics work," Bledsoe said.
Mayor Laura Hill said she agrees that the city needs this type of project, just not at the expense of the city’s tree preservation ordinance.
Chris Alexander, senior development director for Mainstreet Property Group, said any developer would have difficulty on this site because of all the trees in the middle of the property. Much of it is undergrowth that’s being counted as trees.
The project bounced around from the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council over the last several months. During that time, Alexander said they’ve made multiple changes, including tweaking the plan to save 32 percent of the trees on the site. The original plan only saved 19 percent. The city’s tree ordinance says 50 percent of the trees must be preserved.
Alexander pointed out that he’s seen precedents set elsewhere in the city for the exceptions to the tree ordinance.
When asked if he could cut the project down to 70 beds from 102, he said that doesn’t work for them.
He declined to comment after the meeting.
Ensign Group would have been the operator of the facility. The average patient would stay about 30 days.