Livingston HealthCare reaches deal to purchase 100 acres adjacent to current campus

By 
Justin Post — Enterprise Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 5, 2020
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Livingston HealthCare has inked an agreement to purchase 100 acres of undeveloped land adjacent to its current campus, with potential development options for the property including affordable housing and medical facilities.

The hospital announced Wednesday that it has been working with the Ted and Georgeann Watson family to acquire the property, which is located between the hospital and Swingley Road. 

As part of the agreement, the hospital will pay for the purchase over the next five years with payments made from its annual operating budget. Hospital officials plan to work with a third party to develop a master plan for the property, said Shiell Anderson, vice chairman of the hospital’s board of directors.

“It’s a long-term play and we expect that it will be developed over the course of five years or more,” Anderson said.

Fellow hospital board member David Stanley agreed.

“Generally speaking, one would expect that 80 acres or 100 acres would take several number of years to be absorbed into use,” Stanley said. “We’re not going to build 100 units next year.”

The purchase gives the hospital an opportunity to guide future development along a stretch of Livingston’s east corridor, expand its medical presence in the community and provide much-needed housing, Stanley and Anderson said during a Wednesday conference call with The Livingston Enterprise.

Stanley said the hospital has current and prospective employees who have been unable to find affordable housing in the Livingston area. He sees this purchase as an opportunity for the hospital to help meet that need, with about 80 acres of this new property possibly used for housing development. The remaining land could be used to expand hospital and related health care services, he said.

But the hospital would seek community input on how the property should be developed, Stanley said.

“Acquiring this land is a strategic investment in our community,” Deb Anczak, the hospital’s CEO, said in a statement. “We will work with the community to gather ideas about the best way to help develop this entry corridor.”

After a master plan is completed, hospital officials would work with developers on a “carefully planned mixed-use neighborhood,” Anczak said.

“Ultimately, our investment will be returned when land is sold, and Livingston will have a development that community members can be proud of,” Anczak said in her statement. “We are so grateful to the Watson family for their continued relationship with us which, in this case, gives us this strategic opportunity to be involved in the planning for Livingston’s growth and development.”

LHC Foundation Board member Pat Gilligan offered similar comments.

“In today’s real estate environment, well-planned developments that address the needs of a community are thriving,” Gilligan, who is a retired commercial real estate owner and investor, said in a statement. “Having our community hospital step forward to invest in our future shows their commitment to a healthy community for everyone they serve. This is a win-win opportunity.”

The Watsons are using a charitable giving tool that lowers the asking price of the property in a way that makes the purchase possible for the hospital, with the land sold at below the appraised value, hospital officials said.

The Watson family has a history of donating portions of their ranch, including land to the city of Livingston for riverfront trails and the 20 acres that Livingston HealthCare’s hospital and clinic currently occupy, according to an LHC news release.

The Watson family has a long history of ranching on the land, dating back to the mid-1950s when Georgeann Watson’s parents bought the ranch, the release said.

“Given our close proximity to the community of Livingston, we’ve always strived to be good neighbors while envisioning ways the land could benefit our town as it grows,” Ted Watson said in a statement. “We are proud of how the development of the hospital set the stage for what can happen on this adjacent acreage.”

Stanley said a portion of the property is located in the floodplain and that those areas would be used for green space or possibly roads.

“We will accommodate the floodplain in the development of the property and it doesn’t impair the use of the property in any significant way,” he said. “It calls for some green space, which you ought to have anyway.”

The purchase price of the land was not disclosed.