City approves medical residency training center plans

Some in public still skeptical whether it can succeed

The Shawano Common Council on Tuesday approved plans for a medical residency training center despite hearing another skeptical voice in opposition.

A development agreement between the city and RTC Real Estate Holdings LLC approved in November calls for a 25-bed residency training hospital and medical clinic, along with eight 12-unit residential apartment buildings, that would be located north of County Road B and east of Waukechon Street in Shawano.

The apartments would be a mix of multi-family housing and senior assisted living facilities.

The council heard negative reactions to the center from about half a dozen residents, mostly local doctors, in November when the development agreement was approved.

Retired Shawano County Public Health Director Jan Lewellyn also lodged her opposition at the council’s annual reorganizational meeting Tuesday.

“This whole medical residency idea, I can’t tell you how uncomfortable I am with that,” she said.

Lewellyn said she has experience in training hospitals and said the RTC plan didn’t seem to be well-thought out.

“I know about credentialing. I know what this takes,” she said. “I don’t get the sense that what’s going on here is going to be successful for a lot of reasons. The last thing we need is another sort of slum scenario.”

Lewellyn called the project “almost guaranteed to fail,” and compared it to the city’s misbegotten venture into the telecommunications business.

“This isn’t the first time the city’s made a mistake,” she said. “A lot of us voted for the fiber optics, and that money just floated away.”

Todd Schultz, who worked as a lead consultant for the project on behalf of RTC Real Estate Holdings, said in an interview Thursday he didn’t feel it was his role to address the objections.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” he said.

Schultz added, however, that the six to eight people who have objected at city meetings had never reached out to the RTC board to ask questions or seek an explanation of the group’s plans.

Schultz said he would be back before the plan commission and council within the next two months to provide more information as building permits are requested for the first phases of the project, which would entail the residential housing piece.

Credentialing for the training center would come later.

“The first phase doesn’t require credentialing,” he said.

The 39-acre complex, located in Tax Incremental Finance District 7, would be just south of the new Belmark packaging development.

RTC expects to make a roughly $63 million investment in the project, according to the agreement.

The $780,000 cost of the property would be offset by credits RTC would receive if it meets all of its obligations under the agreement, basically providing the property to RTC at no cost.

The agreement calls for RTC to construct a 45,000-square-foot medical clinic in three phases, with the first phase completed by January 2018.

The residency training hospital would be up by January 2020.

Four 12-unit apartment buildings would go up in 2019 and 2020, with 48 units of additional apartments and/or senior assisted living beds by January 2023.

The last phase of the medical clinic would be completed by January 2026.

The residency training hospital portion of the project would be tax-exempt, but RTC would make an annual payment to the city in lieu of taxes starting 10 years after the project’s completion.

The city would also issue a municipal revenue bond of $2.5 million on RTC’s behalf once the early phases of the project are completed.

The 22-acre hospital portion of the project is expected to increase the value of the property by $38 million and create 210 full-time jobs, according to the agreement.

Improvements to the 9-acre housing and senior care portion should add $8.5 million to the taxable land value and create 25 full-time jobs.

The clinic and professional building portion is expected to add $7.5 million in taxable valuation improvements and create 50 full-time jobs.

A plan to turn the former SMC property into a residency training hospital was approved by city officials two years ago but fell through after ThedaCare, which owns a portion of the property, refused to sign on.

ThedaCare objected over concerns that the training center would compete with ThedaCare Medical Center-Shawano.