Wellstar: Construction of new $263M tower will have 'minimal impact' to area

·2 min read

Jun. 2—Wellstar's quest to convert Kennestone Hospital to an all-private room facility will move forward this fall with demolition of the nearly 60-year-old Baird building.

The aging structure will be replaced with a $263-million seven-story tower aiming to add 61 acute-care beds to the hospital, and 67 beds relocated from elsewhere in the complex.

Callie Andrews, chief operating officer for Kennestone and Wellstar Windy Hill hospitals, told the MDJ that Wellstar received state approval for the project in December, clearing the way for construction to begin.

Nestled between the hospital's green and blue towers, Andrews said the demolition of the existing Baird building — a two-story structure dating from 1964 — will be a piece-by-piece "surgical removal," no dynamite required. Impact to residents, she added, should be insignificant.

"There's been a lot of focused effort on keeping this project central to the campus, from where we staged construction, to where the tower is being built," Andrews said. "So we're placing a ton of effort on making sure there's minimal impact to Church Street and surrounding areas."

Marietta Councilman Andy Morris, who represents the area, said he's met with Wellstar executives and doesn't believe the project will be a headache for commuters given its off-street location.

"I haven't heard any complaints from anybody," he said.

Crucially, Wellstar has determined the new wing won't require the construction of any additional parking space, which Andrews said has been a frequent inquiry.

Staging for the construction site is happening behind the Church Street entrance to the hospital just south of Tower Road, which approaches the 699 building where outpatient offices are housed.

"There is minor underground work that is expected to be required under Church Street, and we expect that to occur only at nighttime, with minimal impact over the course of about one month," Andrews added.

The pandemic increased the desire — and need — for patients to have private rooms, and Andrews said the tower's designed with future public health concerns in mind. Though it'll house neonatal, cardiac, and neuroscience services, the entire tower is convertible to private critical care beds.

The tower is expected to be completed in 2025, with patients filling in shortly thereafter.