The site of a former driving range in western Plymouth soon will be home to a 60,000-square-foot medical and dental clinic jointly run by Park Nicollet and HealthPartners.

It's the first announced development since Park Nicollet and HealthPartners completed their merger Jan. 1. The merger made the company the second-largest health care provider in Minnesota, behind the Mayo Clinic. Together, Park Nicollet and HealthPartners employ more than 20,000 people and have more than one million patients in Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

"It's an opportunity, quite honestly, for us to co-brand now that we're combined with HealthPartners — so we can co-brand the HealthPartners Dental Group with the Park Nicollet Clinic," said Brett Long, vice president of growth and strategy for Park Nicollet. HealthPartners operates 17 dental clinics throughout Minnesota, and Park Nicollet runs 25 health clinics, most of them in the southern and western metro areas.

The proposed facility will be 3.5 miles west of another Park Nicollet clinic in Plymouth, located near the intersection of Hwy. 55 and Interstate 494. It will offer medical services in pediatrics, family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, internal medicine, physical therapy and a radiology lab, in addition to a smaller dental office. Early conceptual drawings leave room for further expansion.

Park Nicollet purchased the 17.5-acre lot at the southwest corner of the intersection of Hwys. 55 and 101 in 2006. Previous plans to build at the site were scrapped in 2009 because of the struggling economy.

On April 16, officials from Park Nicollet and the city of Plymouth met to discuss utility improvements and the construction of an access road that will be needed before the clinic can open. Although no official agreement is in place, discussions with both parties indicated that Park Nicollet will pay for most, if not all, of the estimated $636,000 worth of required infrastructure improvements.

Park Nicollet submitted its application to the city April 19; the city plans to take the full 120 days to review it, according to Steve Juetten, Plymouth's community development director.

Also, before construction begins, the Metropolitan Council will have to approve a land-use amendment to change the lot's zoning from residential to commercial office.

In the meantime, Park Nicollet plans to host a community meeting to solicit feedback from nearby business owners and residents. Details on the meeting weren't immediately available.

The landscape for clinics

Park Nicollet's proposal comes on the heels of a decision by Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) to cancel plans to build a 121,000-square-foot clinic about 4 miles to the southeast in Minnetonka, in part because it was deemed too far west of Minneapolis.

"The community of Plymouth is younger, growing, and our existing facility [in Plymouth] just didn't allow us to expand," said Long. "It was more of a stretch for [HCMC] just getting out of the main metro, within the city and the first-ring suburbs. For them to leapfrog and go out there, it was a pretty risky and bold move, and I think that's what their board effectively decided."

The second Plymouth location would be one of the westernmost clinics in Park Nicollet's portfolio, filling a gap between its offices in Chanhassen, Shorewood and Rogers in the outskirts of the western suburbs.

Ben Johnson • 612-673-4499