The New England Baptist Hospital (NEBH), which specializes in orthopedic care and has been a mainstay on top of Parker Hill for more than a century, is planning to move as its currently facility needs to be renovated and it would be too costly to do so, according to spokesperson Lisa Rand.
Rand did not give a timeframe for the move, but a presentation during a community meeting last month on NEPH’s Institutional Master Plan (IMP) projected a five-year operating plan. The presentation was not the actually IMP. An IMP is a comprehensive development plan that describes an institution’s existing facilities, long-range planning goals and proposed projects. It is typically a 10-year plan.
NEPH has already started changing its campus, as it recently sold 70 Parker Hill Ave. to a developer who plans to turn the building into residential housing. Further changes to some of the historic buildings on the campus would likely have to be reviewed by historical agencies, including the Boston Landmarks Commission.
“We have no immediate plans to leave our current location, however a new Boston facility will need to be developed as our current campus will not meet our future patient care needs beyond the next decade,” Rand said in an email to the Gazette.
When asked why NEBH was moving, Rand responded that the present campus was built more than a century ago and was not “designed to accommodate a hospital that specializes in orthopedics where patients have specific mobility needs. To renovate our current facility would be cost-prohibitive.”
She said that NEBH is committed to staying within the city and that the planning process will take years. Rand said it would be “premature for NEBH to evaluate and predetermine any plans for reuse of its campus.”
Mission Hill City Councilor Josh Zakim said that the NEBH moving is a “big issue for the Hill and a lot of Boston as well.” He said reuse of the space presents a “big opportunity” and has asked the Boston Redevelopment Authority to form a community-input group to discuss that.
“We need to start talking about that now instead of scrambling in five years,” he said.
Local resident Richard Giordano, who sits on the task force for the NEBH IMP, said he is concerned that a developer could purchase the property and “put more than a thousand luxury units of housing on it, or perhaps as a location for thousands of dorms, instead of seeing them built on college campuses.” He said 45 Worthington St., where currently a 35-story tower is proposed, could serve as a rationale for developers to build massive towers throughout Mission Hill, including the NEBH campus.