By ROBERT LINNEHAN
Virtua Health representatives said last week they have no plans to construct a hotel on the new hospital campus.
“The reality is we’re trying to get the hospital and ambulatory system open within the next two years. That’s our main focus. The practical matter is there’s not much land left on our campus for a hotel either,” Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Mike Kotzen said.
It adds another facet to an ongoing debate in Voorhees, with the township’s Planning Board reviewing a master plan amendment that would allow for hotels to be constructed on both sides of Route 73.
At present, hotels are only allowed on the west side of the highway.
The plan would also require hotels be constructed on sites with a minimum of 10 acres and be between three and five stories tall. At present, there are only two available parcels of land on the eastern side of Route 73 that would reach the 10-acre minimum. One is the Virtua site.
During a past meeting with the Planning Board, several residents mentioned that Virtua had plans to construct a hotel on their hospital campus that would cater to the families of patients staying at the new hospital. Many of the residents asked members of the Planning Board why more hotels would be needed in the township if the hospital was planning on building their own.
Kotzen said no outside developer has contacted Virtua and even brought forth a plan to construct a hotel on the campus.
“We’re preparing the ambulatory structure right now. It’s a 300,000-square-foot facility. We’ve got our hands full with a million-square-foot campus that we’re trying to open in the next two years,” Kotzen said. “Our issue is the hospital. A hotel is way off our radar screen. There is no conversation about hotels on our campus. The practical matter is there is not enough space on our campus to even support a hotel.”
The campus is on schedule to be completed, and Kotzen said Virtua will likely be announcing an official opening date this January. The master plan amendment was tabled by the Planning Board at the July meeting. It will be debated and voted on during the Planning Board meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at town hall.