The dramatic transformation of the former Banner Mesa Medical Center site from older hospital to state-of-the-art office complex is rapidly nearing completion.
The nine-story hospital tower, near Country Club Drive and Brown Road, still looks the same from the exterior, but the interior is quickly taking shape as modern medical offices for more than 1,200 Banner employees. The space will also include technological support for Banner hospitals and a state-of-the-art clinical training facility.
The first group of employees began occupying the top floor of the revamped tower on Dec. 29.
"We have certificate of occupancy on the ninth floor and the main lobby, so we're opening approximately one floor a month," said Steve Eiss, senior project manager. "The eighth floor will be open at the end of January, and then the seventh and sixth, down through the third floor."
The campus will support Banner's entire hospital system in Arizona and seven other states, said Daniel Stoecklin, project executive.
"Our patient financial services are here and our patient scheduling will be here," he said. "Clinicians ... can be trained and get out into practice sooner, and of course there's the technology center supporting all of (the system). So it is fully supporting the corporation for Banner Health."
Upon entering the main lobby, which looks nothing like the entrance that greeted hospital patients and visitors, it's clear the building is undergoing a massive face-lift.
"This shows that Banner has made a commitment to the city of Mesa," Stoecklin said. "We're going to stay here, we're going to utilize the property, bring upwards of 1,200 new types of positions to the area, and we're looking forward to working with the neighborhood ... and helping redevelop and bring back some of what used to be here in (west) Mesa."
The new complex is a "nice way to keep the neighborhood thriving," said Patrick Murphy, project manager with the city of Mesa's economic development department.
"We're hoping that some of their employees will come downtown to eat and shop," he said.
More than 400 construction workers descend on the site every day. and the project includes much more than new carpet, paint, ceilings and lighting, Eiss said.
"We basically have to completely gut the existing mechanical system," he said. "We had to put in an entirely new air-conditioning system, new chilled water, new boilers and new air-handler units located in the penthouse, and in the second-floor mezzanine we put in a completely new electrical system for the technology center."
The hardest part of the project has been trying to squeeze new technology into an older building, Eiss said.
"When the building was built in 1961, buildings were ... a little more compact than what we're used to these days," he said. "Part of the reason that we had to leave the ceilings on the north and south halves exposed is because we couldn't fit the entire mechanical system in and get ceilings in."
The office tower and training facility should be completed by May 1, while the technology center will be completed July 21. All of the workers will transfer from leased space all over the Valley, Eiss said.
"When it was a hospital, obviously the focus was on patient care," Eiss said. "Our focus is still on patient care because we're a health care system, but this is the back of the house that you don't get to see that keeps a health care organization running."