Changes coming to Cherry Hill’s Kennedy University Hospital

Changes will soon be coming to Cherry Hill’s Kennedy University Hospital, as the township prepares to pass a rehabilitation plan for the property.

At a council meeting on Aug. 11, a resolution was passed declaring Kennedy Hospital as an area in need of rehabilitation. In addition, council passed an ordinance on first reading approving a redevelopment plan for the property. The plan will be up for a public hearing during the Sept. 8 meeting.

Kennedy Hospital and the township have been in discussion about the rehabilitation plan for a number of months. The hospital, located at the corner of Chapel Avenue and Cooper Landing Road, had been looking at rehabilitating and modernizing the facility.

“This is really going to take it from 1962 to the 21st century,” said Paul Stridick, the director of community development for Cherry Hill.

Lisa Morina, vice president of government and external relations for Kennedy, said the project is in its preliminary stages. Kennedy is waiting for council to pass the plan before moving forward with the project.

“It allows us to align more with the township’s designation,” Morina said of the plan.

Stridick said the redevelopment plan is the township’s vision of how the property will be developed. It outlines zoning regulations specific to the property and gives a general overview of what the new hospital may look like.

The new zoning regulations increase the maximum building height from 60 to 75 feet. Stridick said the current patient tower does not allow adequate space for hospital equipment. He believes extending the height limit an extra 15 feet will make a huge difference.

“It allows them to get that much more space,” Stridick said.

To help fulfill open space requirements, the township is encouraging the hospital to include green initiatives, such as green roofs on the buildings, rain gardens on the property and solar car ports on the top floor of the parking structure. The plan includes a rain garden in an area currently housing surface parking for the hospital.

The plan also encourages the hospital to achieve LEED certification to receive credit toward building and lot coverage.

Because Kennedy has not gone into specifics about the project, Morina is unsure whether the hospital will pursue these green initiatives.

“The plan outlines the area and does encourage certain kinds of initiatives,” Morina said.

Kennedy Hospital was eligible for a rehabilitation plan after meeting the state’s criteria.

During its investigation of the property, the planning board determined the buildings were in substandard condition mainly due to their age, under-utilization of space and the age of the water and sewer infrastructure. All three criteria were reasons the township could declare the property an area in need of rehabilitation.

“We only had to meet one of those six criteria,” Stridick said. “We hit on three of those six criteria.”

Morina said the hospital is looking to make changes to improve the experience for patients from Cherry Hill and the surrounding area.

“We’ve looked at a variety of community needs,” she said. “There was a huge community needs assessment.”

Morina said Kennedy Health System will have specific information on its plans for the hospital after the second reading of the redevelopment plan.