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Medical building finally breaks ground in Citrus Heights; set for 2019 opening

Dignity Health groundbreaking
Leaders from Dignity Health and the City of Citrus Heights participate in a ceremonial groundbreaking on May 23 at the site of a new 3-story medical building at Greenback Lane and Fountain Square Drive. // CH Sentinel

Officials donned hard hats and dug in shovels Tuesday morning at a groundbreaking ceremony at the corner of Greenback Lane and Fountain Square Drive, marking the long-awaited beginning of construction on a new $30 million Dignity Health medical office building.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be here today as we break ground,” said Sigrid Owyang, operations vice president for Dignity Health Medical Foundation, to the assembled crowd of about a hundred people who attended the May 23 ceremony. Mayor Jeff Slowey also said he was pleased to welcome a new business in the healthcare industry to the city, saying “it’s not a business that I ever see as going out of business.”

Sister Bridget McCarthy, vice president of mission integration for Dignity Health, offered a blessing for the building project and reminded those assembled of the vision the Sisters of Mercy had in founding the nearby Mercy San Juan Medical Center on Coyle Avenue over 50 years ago, with the purpose of “expanding the healing ministry of Jesus to this community.” She said Dignity Health would remain true to its roots in opening a new facility in Citrus Heights.

The new three-story medical building will include 50 physicians to provide a wide range of primary and specialty care services for patients, including dermatology and endocrinology, family medicine, optometry, pain management, and pediatrics.

>>Images: See artistic renderings of the new Dignity Health medical office building on Greenback Ln

The 68,000-square-feet building was part of a $53.2 million project approved by city council members in March 2015, which also included the now-completed new city hall. Under the agreement, city hall was moved from the corner of Greenback Lane and Fountain Square Drive to allow for the new medical building in its place — and the city in return will receive $6.9 million through a 15-year lease agreement.

As previously reported on The Sentinel, reasons for delay were reportedly due to internal financing issues, and an environmental lawsuit filed against the project that was settled last year may have also contributed to delays.

Despite initial controversy over the medical office building and city hall project, changes along the way won over some opposition — including lead opponent Tim Schaefer, who spearheaded a “Save City Hall” effort in 2014.

“I’m really happy that the city hall is in its current location and not on Antelope Road,” Schaefer told The Sentinel following the groundbreaking, referring to an initial proposal to relocate the hall two miles away on Antelope Road near Mariposa Avenue. “I see it as a really reasonable outcome with the new city hall where it is and Dignity Health here.”

The new medical building is slated to open in Spring 2019, with Panattoni Development Company serving as the project’s lead developer.


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