The subject of the meeting at Sutter Tracy Community Hospital, 1420 N. Tracy Blvd., was a proposal to raze the medical center at 441 W. Eaton Ave. and build a larger, two-story replacement on the adjacent tree-lined parking lot.
The proposal by property owner Sutter Gould Medical Foundation met with objections from residents.
“You’re trying to fit a square peg into a round hole,” said Sarah Gordon, a resident of Wall Street who was among more than 25 people at the meeting.
“You’re trying to take this giant building and make it fit like it’s a puzzle piece,” she said. “A lot of people are here because they feel like perhaps it’s going to take the neighborhood out of the neighborhood.”
David Romano, real estate consultant from Modesto-based Newman-Romano, said Sutter Gould wants to build a 45,000-square-foot building to replace the 29,000-square-foot Eaton Medical Center, but those plans haven’t been formally submitted to the city. He said the foundation wanted to hear from nearby residents first.
“We looked at a lot of different options from the site plan, and this is the one that really stuck out from a planning perspective and from neighborhood preservation,” he said. “Having a building at this location was ideal.”
The center was purchased by the foundation in December.
Gordon didn’t like the idea of the two-story building overlooking her backyard. She also said the traffic and noise generated by a larger facility would be too much for the neighborhood.
Another woman urged the developers not to tear down the established trees in the existing parking lot, a sentiment shared by Pete Mitracos, a resident of the area and a member of the Tracy planning commission.
He called it “a beautiful parking lot.”
“You will lose all those trees — those are an asset that you have,” he said. “Appreciate what you have. Don’t bulldoze it and build something out at Grant Line or Gateway. It will impact the property values in a negative way.”
The proposed facility, at a cost of about $20 million, is designed to house 20 to 24 physicians in family practice, internal medicine and pediatrics.
Paul DeChant, the CEO of Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, said both floors would have a central physician-staff area surrounded by examination rooms. He said the design would “maximize the amount of time a physician spends with a patient.”
He said hours of operation for the urgent-care facility would be 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekends.
Resident Kyle Miller was unhappy about the possibility of employees and patients parking in his neighborhood.
“We live a block from here,” Miller said. “We already have issues with parking on Eaton because of the (Central) school. That’s a big concern.”
But David Thompson, the hospital CEO, said the project would include a new staff parking lot across Eaton Avenue from the medical center.
He said Sutter Gould plans to tear down two abandoned, dilapidated houses between Wall Street and Bessie Avenue.
“I want to make it clear, we didn’t come in and buy a residential piece of property and say, We want to come in here and put in a medical facility,” Thompson said. “This is zoned medical office. It has been zoned for awhile.”
Thompson said that Sutter Gould plans to continue to “be a good neighbor” to the area and that construction dates have not been finalized.
He said the next step was to submit a final plan to the city, but he did not say when that would be done.
•Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or email@example.com.