Ed Fletcher / efletcher@sacbee.com

Margarette and David Schwartz take a peek Thursday at Mercy General Hospital's new 20-unit apartment complex.

Mercy General unveils hospital-owned apartment complex near 39th and H

Published: Friday, Mar. 22, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, Mar. 24, 2013 - 11:09 am

Twenty new east Sacramento apartments, featuring 19th-century Craftsman-style architecture and 21st-century amenities, were unveiled Thursday by owner Mercy General Hospital.

The market-rate units on part of the former site of Sacred Heart Parish School at 3940 H St. are a byproduct of a controversial hospital expansion project approved by the Sacramento City Council in 2007.

To make way for a new cardiac center, "we had to take down some housing that we owned along H Street," said Barb Schor, a hospital spokeswoman. "We agreed to replace it with the apartment complex."

The project is not associated with Mercy Housing, which specializes in affordable housing projects. The one- and two-bedroom units are available for lease. They range from $1,400 a month for a one-bedroom, one-bath unit to $1,975 per month for two bedrooms and two baths, Schor said. Amenities include stainless steel appliances, hardwood floors and tankless water heaters.

The units will be managed by Property Management Inc. at an on-site office.

Schor said the $3.4 million construction project created about 100 jobs, 80 percent of which were local.

The loss of housing to the hospital expansion was among concerns cited by area residents who opposed the project.

City Councilman Steve Cohn, who represents the east Sacramento neighborhood, said the apartment project had been subjected to city design review. He praised the architecture, saying, "It's not just a monolithic building."

The apartments serve not only to replace housing lost to the expansion, he said, but also to buffer residences along H Street from the hospital complex.

Paul Noble, president of the East Sacramento Improvement Association, said the organization did not take a position for or against the expansion because the membership was about evenly divided.

Based on comments heard around the neighborhood and postings on social media, Noble said, he believes many residents still resent the expansion and its impact on the area.

As for the new apartments, he said, "I think they appear to fit in with the neighborhood."

Schor said the hospital took to heart neighborhood concerns about traffic, noting that instead of creating a separate driveway off H Street, the apartment complex is accessed via Spine Street, on the hospital campus.

Mercy General also recently completed a quarter-acre park on hospital property on 39th Street and made $200,000 in pedestrian improvements, including crossing islands on J and H streets. Pedestrian crossing signs flash yellow lights to warn drivers.

Noble, who lives two blocks from the hospital, said construction impacts have not been as bad as he anticipated. He praised Mercy General for providing shuttle service for construction workers so they don't park their personal vehicles on neighborhood streets.

Construction of the new four-story Alex G. Spanos Heart and Vascular Center continues.

"We hope to have patients admitted by the end of the year," Schor said.

The expansion will reduce the total number of licensed beds at the hospital from 342 to 315, she said, but it will put all the cardiac care services – from rehabilitation support to surgery and intensive care units – under one roof.

Mercy General Hospital was founded at 40th and J streets in 1925, and a new wing was added in the 1950s. The current expansion was needed to accommodate the latest technology, Schor said. The cardiac center will front on J Street and will include a new chapel on the ground floor. Schor said the original chapel, featuring a stained-glass window designed by a French architect, will be retained and used for meetings.

Call The Bee's Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.

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