Washington Regional Medical System on Monday announced that it had acquired about 15 acres of land adjacent to its Fayetteville campus to expand operations.
The land, which the system purchased for $6.63 million, is part of Drake Farms, a mixed-use development that will include residential, commercial and institutional space, along with green space. Plans for the property include facilities for expanded inpatient hospital services, outpatient surgical services and ambulatory care services, the system said in a news release. A wellness center is also planned.
A system spokesperson said it will probably be at least a year before construction can begin on the first building on the property. The length of construction will depend on the size and scope of the project.
The system has the option to purchase another 25 acres of land on two parcels in the future.
The acquisition comes during a time of rapid growth for the hospital and the region. From 2010 to 2020, the population of the Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers Metropolitan Statistical Area grew by 24% to 546,725, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The medical center campus has grown since 2002 from 345,000-SF to 724,000-SF.
The system is unable to expand any further on its main campus, Washington Regional President and CEO Larry Shackleford said in the release.
"The Northwest Arkansas community is among the fastest growing in the nation and acquiring this property will allow us to grow with it,” he said.
Washington Regional isn't the only health system in the region looking to keep up with growing demand for its services. Mercy Hospital Fort Smith in June announced a $162 million project to expand emergency room capacity from 29 to 50 and raise the number of ICU beds from 38 to 64. It's also adding 140 new parking spaces. Construction on the two-year project is expected to begin next year.
Mercy's Rogers campus underwent a $247 million expansion that was completed in 2019. It included construction of a seven-story, 100-patient tower.
Arkansas Children’s Northwest is also looking to expand. In July, it received a $5 million donation from J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc. of Lowell to build up its Springdale campus.