Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is seeking a 57-bed expansion of its Scottish Rite hospital on Pill Hill, requiring a one-story addition and a rezoning approval from the city of Sandy Springs.

A map of current and planned zoning at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Scottish Rite hospital on Pill Hill.

Scottish Rite currently has 273 beds and wants to add 43 inpatient beds and 14 observation beds, officials said at a Feb. 24 community meeting held at the hospital. The expansion, announced last fall, is needed due to a bed crunch that forces the hospital to send some older kids to adult-oriented hospitals, CHOA Chief Public Policy Officer David Tatum said.

The plan involves adding a fifth story to the main hospital building along Meridian Mark Road, as well as building out an existing top floor currently used as storage.

But the plan requires rezoning the Scottish Rite property, largely to correct what hospital attorney Woody Galloway called inconsistency and “error” in the existing zoning, which dates to 1987. That zoning has a 250-bed limit that the hospital already exceeded with state approval long ago and permitted about 726,000 square feet of development under what Galloway said are irregular methods of calculating floor space. CHOA also wants to confirm its entitlement to an additional 28,000 square feet permitted under the 1980s zoning, which the hospital does not have plans to build out at the moment, Galloway said.

Brian Cohen, president of the homeowners association at the nearby Johnson Ferry Park townhomes, said that residents’ main concern is construction impacts, especially with other Pill Hill projects coming online soon.

Galloway said rezoning, if the city approves it, could come in June. Tatum said a state decision on permitting the additional beds is expected Feb. 25. If that all happens, hospital officials said, construction could start in July, with major exterior work wrapping up in January 2017. Further work would continue into fall 2017.

Construction staging would take place on green space in front of the hospital on Meridian Mark, requiring the removal of some trees and the closure of one lane of the road. CHOA is not adding any parking with the expansion request, saying current capacity is fine.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.