By Kevin Kelley
The first shovels were put in the ground for a long-awaited economic development project July 16.
Officials from the city and O’Neill Management, owner and operator of four area health care facilities, participated in a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Garnett Health Campus. The 118-bed skilled nursing facility is being constructed at Lorain Road and West 208th Street, just across the street from City Hall.
John T. O’Neill, the company’s president, was joined by his father and company founder, John O’Neill, and other family members at the groundbreaking.
“It’s great to be back in Fairview,” said the younger O’Neill, who grew up in the city and attended its public schools.
“This is a 12-month project,” O’Neill said of the facility’s construction schedule. “Hopefully, we’ll be back here in 12 months to say we’re completed.”
He added that a fairly lengthy process of obtaining state certification and completing other preparations will take place after the construction phase is over.
The nursing home will include a large rehabilitation center, which O’Neill said he hopes will draw patients being discharged from nearby Fairview Hospital.
Garnett Health Campus will be the company’s fifth facility. O’Neill Management also owns and operates Bradley Bay Health Center in Bay Village, Center Ridge Health Campus in North Ridgeville, Lakewood Senior Health Campus in Lakewood and Wellington Place in North Olmsted.
Rick Meserini, currently the administrator of Wellington Place, will be the top executive at Garnett Health Campus when it opens. The Fairview Park facility will follow the same model of care given at the company’s other highly rated nursing homes, Meserini said.
“We will be using the same model of quality care with a strong focus on rehabilitation as the foundation to Garnett Health Campus,” he told West Life.
“We are looking forward to bringing skilled nursing and rehabilitation services, as well as long-term care, to a community (Fairview Park) that currently doesn’t have any of these options,” Meserini added.
Originally, plans for the Garnett Health Campus included an assisted living component consisting of 38 suites. O’Neill Management postponed those plans this spring.
O’Neill told West Life his company still plans to build an assisted living wing at the Garnett site, but the timing of construction would be determined by demographic and market factors.
Garnett Health Campus takes its name from the former Garnett Primary School, which once stood on the property along with the administrative offices of the Fairview Park City Schools.
Redevelopment of the Garnett School site was a long-term goal of the Gemini Project, the voter-approved initiative that included the construction of the new Gilles-Sweet Elementary School and the city’s recreation center.
O’Neill Management purchased the Garnett property from the city, which, in turn, had obtained it from the school district.
The nursing home owner has been granted a seven-year, 100-percent tax abatement on the Garnett Health Campus. After the abatement period ends, property taxes will be collected on the redeveloped site, something that did not happen when it belonged to the school district, city officials have noted.
Once the 65,000-square-foot facility opens, its estimated 115 employees will pay income tax on an annual total payroll of $3.5 million, according to the abatement agreement.