ATLANTIC CITY — A new AtlantiCare HealthPark at Ohio and Atlantic avenues will meet the community’s medical needs, address blight and create jobs, according to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

The authority voted Tuesday to give preliminary approval to the $38 million project, for which AtlantiCare is requesting $15 million in funds from the agency. CRDA would also provide the building lot, worth about $3 million, free of charge.

The building site is across Ohio Avenue from AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center’s Atlantic City Campus.

AtlantiCare would build a three-story, 65,000-square-foot building on now-vacant land and surface parking lots, said AtlantiCare Chief Operating Officer Margaret Belfield.

“In my opinion, the most important thing to know is ... it will expand treatment for mothers and babies at the greatest risk,” said board Chairman Robert Mulcahy.

He said the Atlantic City area has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the state.

And he said providing care for pregnant women who are addicted is also of utmost importance.

Currently AtlantiCare’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine program operates out of its 48,000-square-foot William L. Gormley AtlantiCare HealthPlex, which opened in 2000 at 1401 Atlantic Ave.

The new center will allow the program to expand, said Belfield.

The new building would house an urgent care center, dialysis unit, maternal and fetal health program, and provide teaching facilities for medical students and physician residents, Belfield said.

Once all approvals are final, it will take about two years to construct and open the facility, she said.

A state report detailing what the resort has to do to regain control of its operations and finances, often referred to as the Johnson report, stated that infant mortality and obesity are among the first things the city should focus on.

CRDA Executive Director Matt Doherty said the project “exemplifies the priorities of Gov. Murphy’s administration, which is combining both economic development and addressing the needs of the residents of Atlantic City.”

It would be the first new construction project in the “Eds and Meds” district designated in the CRDA master plan, said Belfield.

The project would create substantial foot traffic between Ohio and Michigan avenues, as medical personnel, professionals and visitors walk between the new center and the adjacent Walk shopping and restaurant district and the main hospital campus.

“If we can create a healthier city, we can create a more prosperous city,” said Mayor Frank Gilliam, who is a CRDA board member. “We can also begin to address blight and empty parcels.”

Doherty said he and CRDA staff have been working on the project since July, when he became executive director, “and I look forward to bringing more projects like this in front of the board for their consideration.”

Contact: 609-272-7219 Twitter @MichelleBPost

Staff Writer

In my first job after college got paid to read the New York Times and summarize articles for an early online data base. First reporting job was with The Daily Record in Parsippany. I have also worked in nonprofits, and have been with The Press since 1990.

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