MetroHealth Ready to Move Forward on Expansion of Near West Side Campus
County-owned hospital, MetroHealth System, is ready to move forward with plans for several new buildings on the campus along West 25th Street, with or without additional support from Cuyahoga County taxpayers.
Near historic low interest rates make this the right time to issue bonds to finance the $855 million project to tear down the iconic deteriorating MetroHealth twin towers and rebuild a new campus on Cleveland’s near West side, MetroHealth president and chief executive, Dr. Akram Boutros said in a meeting at ideastream.
Previous proposals called for the county to back a portion of the bonds and for the hospital to back some of them, but the two sides are still negotiating and it’s not clear if county taxpayers will have any role in financing the new buildings, he said.
“There is still opportunities for the county to participate in the bond issuance. They can reimburse us for some of the bond issuance. They can offer bond enhancements that would reduce how much we need to borrow and the rates that we do it. We don’t believe it’s any longer a show stopper. It’s no longer that we can’t proceed without their support,” Dr. Boutros said.
The county would, however, continue to support the hospital operations with more than $32 million annually from the Health and Human Services levy, he said.
County officials said, in a written statement, that “We have been involved in extensive discussions with the hospital concerning their campus transformation plan. It is our understanding that they have engaged financial advisors to help them shape a financing plan, and we have been told that they will present their financing options to us in the near future. We look forward to reviewing their plans when they are presented.”
MetroHealth's Board of Directors will have to approve any final plan before bonds are issued to finance the project, hospital officials said in a written statement.