Merrill Gardens: Pictured in this County Assessor's map is the current Merrill Gardens site and the adjoining plot, where the cottage construction is planned.
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Board votes to advance plans for Merrill Gardens cottages, HonorHealth facility


Elizabeth Medora

ANTHEM – Plans for a new HonorHealth medical facility moved forward at the Anthem Community Council Board of Directors meeting on Jan. 25, after the board unanimously approved amending the supplemental declarations on the site to allow for a medical facility on that property. The facility has been approved to include a helipad.

Merrill Gardens at Anthem’s request to build 13 cottages adjoining the retirement community is also moving forward, as the board approved amending the supplemental declarations for the property on which the cottages would be located.

HonorHealth facility: Pictured is a conceptual plan for the HonorHealth medical facility.

Also at the Jan. 25 meeting, the board approved another request for an amendment of the supplemental declarations, this one for Crossroads Church, which has occupied much of the building at 42105 N. 41st Dr. for several years and now seeks to purchase the property for long-term use. Any exterior remodels of the property will be subject to Council design guidelines.

HonorHealth’s request to build a 40,000 sq. ft. primary care center on Venture Dr. was approved conceptually, with the additional stipulation that the helipad was approved but only for outbound evacuations.

The majority of discussion on the HonorHealth medical facility proposal centered around the helipad. Board members questioned if there were statistics of emergencies requiring a helicopter at other similar facilities and whether HonorHealth was seeking to store a helicopter on the premises.

Board Director Rick Kesselman asked if HonorHealth would be willing to agree to a restriction that only allowed for picking up of patients from the facility, and Nathan Anspach, CEO of HonorHealth Medical Group, agreed to this request.

Wendy R. Riddell, Esq., of Berry Riddell LLC, spoke at the Jan. 25 meeting as a legal representative of HonorHealth. She noted the helipad would be used only for emergency situations and that a factor of the helipad proposal is that the primary way in and out of the area is via I-17, saying that when I-17 gets blocked with traffic, it’s a “very troubling situation when you have someone with an emergency situation.”

Anspach addressed the ACC Board, noting that they don’t own a helicopter and “don’t plan to buy any.” He said that staff wants to be able to get patients with life-threatening conditions to a hospital where they can receive the treatment they need; patients frequently need transport to the HonorHealth hospitals at Deer Valley or North Mountain.

“The challenge is that you have about an hour to get a patient to a hospital,” Anspach said. “We think that the helipad is critically important to this project to protect the citizens of Anthem.”

Anspach noted in response to the board that a similar health facility that opened in December 2015 saw over 50,000 patients last year, and none of them required helicopter evacuation.

According to Riddell, EMS could use the HonorHealth helipad if they chose to but would be unlikely to, as paramedics would need to transport the patient via ambulance to the HonorHealth facility prior to flying out.  

“If a patient is in such a condition that they require helicopter transport, EMS would likely helicopter from the site,” Riddell wrote in an email to The Foothills Focus.

Merrill Gardens at Anthem also received conceptual approval for the construction of 13 cottages, to adjoin their Rose Canyon Circle retirement community. Among the provisions of this approval is that legal counsel will review assessment calculation under this use and the ACC is to determine how assessments will be calculated. The parcel will remain under ACC oversight as non-residential and will be considered a component of the overall Merrill Gardens site, meaning that the main building and cottages would be considered a single unit and could not be sold individually.

ACC Board Director Terry Mullarkey asked what the design plans for the cottages are and if the design would resemble Anthem properties or the Merrill Gardens building.

Bill Pettit, R.D. Merrill Co. president, noted that Merrill Gardens has presented a “design concept that would have them feeling like a part of the community.”

“As we go through design approval, I’m sure that will be discussed,” Pettit said.

In response to an inquiry about leases, Pettit said that Merrill Gardens could go with a one-year lease for the cottages if the community would prefer that. Typically, Merrill Gardens does not require a year lease on cottages in their communities in order to accommodate seniors who lease a cottage and then develop medical needs that necessitate being in the main building so they can receive adequate care. 

The ACC Board voted to move the Merrill Gardens plans forward, with design and other restrictions.

Pettit said after the vote that Merrill Gardens staff is excited about getting the main building of the community open in the next 60 days, adding, “This is going to make a great addition and a wonderful option for Anthem’s seniors.”