Soon, patients of the Medical University of South Carolina will be able to get their health care at a former J.C. Penney department store.
MUSC is opening a roughly 128,000 square-foot facility at the retailer's old Citadel Mall location that will offer a range of health services, from ambulatory surgery to musculoskeletal care and ophthalmology.
Announced last year, the new suburban medical outpost will open in late 2019.
If a shopping mall and a hospital seem like a mismatched pairing, proponents say they share many of the same basic requirements, such as ample parking, a central location in a growing area and easy accessibility.
Other hospital systems have had success with the same approach, said Dr. Patrick Cawley, CEO of MUSC Health. He cited Vanderbilt Health's move into a Nashville mall as one example.
"We feel pretty good that the concept is a solid one," Cawley said.
Cawley, Mayor John Tecklenburg and representative of the property owner spoke Tuesday in front of a white banner that, when dropped, revealed a banner for the "MUSC Health West Campus" and a map pinpointing its location.
The announcement comes as little surprise as MUSC aims to expand off the peninsula.
The hospital system's planned sites include a children's hospital downtown, a children's ambulatory campus in North Charleston, a community hospital in Summerville and a distribution center in North Charleston.
MUSC's board of trustees signed off on the idea of beginning to move some of the system's services off the traffic-clogged peninsula several years ago, Cawley said. They approved the roughly $2 million a year lease for the vacant Penney space last October.
Like the former department store, the MUSC Health West campus will be two stories tall. Blueprints on display showed planned patient and provider rooms, operating rooms, a pharmacy and a check-in on the second floor.
$16.4 million is MUSC's share of the project, the total cost of which was about $32.9 million. The developer kicked in the rest.
Richard C. Davis, who leads a group that owns most of the mall site, called MUSC the "five-star recruit in this area." He said he hopes the partnership helps to breathe new life into the property, which has endured a rash of vacancies from conventional retail tenants.
Tecklenburg said redeveloping the mall site is an important piece in the city's goal to revitalize West Ashley. The new MUSC center could offer new employment opportunities for nearby residents and reduce traffic, he said.
"It's just going to lead to a real fruition of this vision for West Ashley and its revitalization that we've all been talking about for years," Tecklenburg said.