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Regional Hospital Proposal
In 2005, Einstein-Montgomery Hospital attempted to move Montgomery Hospital from its location in Norristown to a nearby site. The original choice was the COPT parcels (a.k.a. Unisys site) in Whitpain Township.
Due to the mixed zoning on these parcels, Einstein required a zoning change in order to move forward with its plan. In October 2005, the Whitpain Board of Supervisors held a hearing on the zoning change. The approval of the zoning would be a defacto approval of the plan itself pending Engineering review and mandates. Despite a full house of residents objecting to the change, and many unanswered questions, the BOS voted to approve the zoning change.
In early 2006 many residents formed groups to battle this change, the most lasting of which became WhitpainResidents.org. As the Einstein plan was documented and presented to the public, it became clear that it was not what the BOS expected.
The original Einstein proposal (available here) was planned to be a +/- 2 million square foot complex and include:
- A 250-bed advanced Regional Medical Center.
- A helicopter landing pad.
- A 350,000 square foot medical office building.
- Four additional office buildings for general or medical office use.
- Five parking garages.
As several BOS member later admitted, the early discussions were framed as a choice of “One million square feet of new office space OR a hospital.” The actual Einstein plans were to include both of the pieces – a million square feet of office space plus a hospital. The BOS acted quickly to reverse the zoning change, thereby ending Einstein’s plans in Whitpain.
During the course of this grassroots fight for the future of Whitpain, much material was researched and published. Here are relevant materials from that time, specific to the COPT parcels and the proposed hospital:
In December of 2006, Einstein - Montgomery Hospital signed a letter of intent to acquire land on Alan Wood Road in Plymouth Township. Alan Wood Road is just west of the Ridge Pike interchange of the Blue Route and is home to IKEA, Home Depot and BJ's. While this appeared to be a good choice for the hospital location, the plan hit several obstacles and was canceled after a few months.
In 2008, Einstein announced plans to acquire property in East Norriton Township, the site of Wood’s Golf complex (a.k.a. Woody’s). Residents in East Norriton had a reaction similar to Whitpain and organized groups in an attempt to prevent the development. Unfortunately, the existing zoning on the site enabled the usage and in the end, residents were unable to stop the plan. At the end of 2009, Woody’s closed for good, and 2010 saw the start of construction on the site.