Charlotte County-based Fawcett Memorial Hospital Inc., as part of a plan to build a new hospital in neighboring Lee County that would contain as many as 100 beds, has acquired a 100-acre tract in Estero, property records indicate.
The HCA Healthcare subsidiary spent $52.5 million late last year to purchase the vacant land, at Williams Road and U.S. 41, from Estero North Point LLC.
Estero North, an entity comprised of Lutgert Cos. Chairman Scott Lutgert, company President Howard Gutman, Halstatt LLC CEO Katherine Sproul and others, had owned the property since buying it in early 2006 for $34.4 million, according to property records.
“They came to us unsolicited and asked to negotiate a deal for the property,” says Gutman. “We had been working with the Village of Estero on a number of concepts, including multifamily and retail, but they gave us a proposal and ultimately we decided to sell it.”
Debra McKell, marketing director of Fawcett Memorial parent HCA West Florida, says the hospital chain is only now beginning to consider entering a design phase for a new healthcare facility.
“There’s no final plan at this stage, they’re simply getting into the details now,” McKell says, adding there is also no set timeframe on when a new hospital may begin construction or open to the public.
Last May, the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration approved HCA’s proposal to develop a new “general acute-care hospital” somewhere in the county, one of three new health care projects planned for the county.
In approving the trio, which also included a proposal by Lee Healthcare, AHCA officials cited the need based on Lee County’s rising population.
Nashville-based HCA owns and operates a number of hospitals along the Gulf Coast. In addition to Fawcett Memorial, in Port Charlotte, the company also controls Doctors Hospital in Sarasota; Blake Medical Center, in Bradenton; Brandon Regional Hospital; Largo Medical Center; Memorial Hospital of Tampa; and the St. Petersburg General Hospital, among others.
In all, HCA operates nearly 180 hospitals and 120 free0standing surgery centers in 20 states.