A couple of recent land purchases foreshadow potential new growth of medical care facilities in west Greeley.
The first took place in August, when NCMC Inc. and Banner Health closed on an 88-acre parcel surrounded by the city-owned Boomerang Golf Course at West 10th Street and 71st Avenue. Banner and NCMC Inc. paid $4.5 million for the parcel, according to Ken Schultz, NCMC board executive.
NCMC is the governing board of North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley; Phoenix-based Banner Health system has a contract to operate NCMC facilities.
The second transaction occurred last month, when NCMC and Banner closed on a 12-acre parcel just east of the Boomerang property, part of the 112-acre former HP campus. Schultz said $2.34 million was paid for that acquisition to City Center West, a Denver-based investor group that has owned the former Hewlett-Packard site since 2007.
Schultz said while the two purchases may not see development in the near-term, they could be future sites for medical facilities in what has been a rapidly growing part of the city.
"We're trying to provide for the direction of the population growth going forward," he said. "We're bullish on Greeley."
Schultz said that of the two, the smaller site is likely to be the home of an NCMC clinic or other outpatient facility. "There's going to be a lot more emphasis on outpatient facilities in the future," he said. "Those kinds of needs of a modern hospital system were also in our thoughts."
At the moment, however, the purchases are just "an investment in our land portfolio," he said. "We don't have anything even conceptually planned for that. We looked at it from the point of view that we want to expand our portfolio."
Schultz said the nearly $6.9 million spent on the two properties was split evenly by the two entities - marking the first such joint land purchases.
Gene Haffner, a Banner spokesman, said the joint purchases did not necessarily indicate a change in the NCMC-Banner relationship. Previously, NCMC has owned all property and equipment, while Banner acted as the leasing operator.
"This is one of the first opportunities that's truly come up related to property that they've had an opportunity to seriously consider," Haffner said. "It just seemed from Banner's perspective to be a good purchase to partner on."
West Greeley has become a focal point of growth in the city and has been for the last several years.
"Is that a growth area? Absolutely," said Becky Safarik, Greeley's community development manager. Safarik said the city is in the process of doing population projections with the latest census data and couldn't yet be more precise as to its projected rate of growth. But she did acknowledge that west Greeley is "definitely an emerging area."
Schultz said Banner and NCMC did not do population projections when they considered buying the two sites, but he noted that the recent opening of a new King Soopers center on the south side of 10th Street - virtually across the street from the 12-acre former HP parcel - speaks well of the area's development future.
"A lot of it is sheer economics," he said. "Obviously, that site was attractive because of the King Soopers location being there now."
Schultz noted that NCMC already has a three-story, 64,000-square-foot outpatient facility - Summit View - located in west Greeley almost exactly a mile south with doctors' offices, imaging facilities and plans to locate more physicians there. "In the very near-term, that should serve us well," he said.

Steve Porter covers health care for the Northern Colorado Business Report. He can be reached at 970-232-3147 or at sporter@ncbr.com.