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GRF exploring new use for medical center property

By Sam Richards

Staff writer


After being on the market for several years, and almost sold twice, the former John Muir Health medical center building could soon become the new home for Rossmoor’s Mutual Operations Department – if such a conversion is practically and economically workable.

On Thursday, April 13, the GRF Planning Committee voted to recommend the Finance Committee endorse commissioning ELS Architecture and Urban Design, and Rockridge Geotechnical to evaluate the medical center property at 1220 Rossmoor Parkway for potential reuse for MOD, Accounting, and other GRF offices.  The Golden Rain Foundation owns the building and property, and the GRF Board would ultimately have to approve the study for it to take place.

Being able to repurpose the medical center could solve two problems for GRF. The “medical center,” as it has been commonly called, had been leased to John Muir Health until 2019. Since then, the property was under contract for purchase twice, most recently late last year, but both agreements fell through. The GRF Board voted in March, in executive session, to take the property off the market.

Meanwhile, the current 12,000-square-foot MOD building on Rockview Drive on Rossmoor’s east edge is old, cramped and frequently in need of repair. Replacing it, at an estimated cost of $17 million, is the most prominent item of GRF’s 10-year Facilities Master Plan.

GRF General Manager Jeff Matheson told the Planning Committee renovating the medical center, with about 31,000 square feet of indoor space plus ample parking could enable more cohesion between MOD, Accounting, IT and the other departments and help residents as well.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to have a one-stop shop for residents? It would all be in one area,” Matheson told the Planning Committee.

It’s also possible repurposing of the medical center building could help free up more public space at Gateway and Creekside, he said, and that there could well be extra space at the medical center building that could be rented out for any of several purposes.

Even if it’s determined by ELS and Rockridge Geotechnical that the medical center could practically host MOD and other GRF departments, the center – built in 1971 – would need significant renovation. In a letter to Matheson, ELS principal David Masenten said ELS and its structural and geotechnical engineers did a walk-through of the building recently and noted settlement on the east side of the building, resulting in cracks in both a wall and in the basement slab. Whether that issue can be economically addressed will be part of the additional geotechnical studies.

Matheson said deciding whether the building could suit GRF needs is best done sooner than later. “It costs money, about $50,000 a year, to hold on to a vacant building,” he told the Planning Committee.

The cost of the evaluation study by ELS and Rockridge is just under $160,000, which would be paid from the GRF Trust Estate Fund

Matheson said there will be several “check-in points” during this evaluation at which, should a major problem be found, the evaluation could be terminated, and next steps reconsidered.

Reordered Community Services Department

With Matheson’s promotion from director of resident services to general manager and the impending retirement of Director of Mutual Operations Paul Donner, some changes have been made for GRF’s departments. Among them are:

  • Ann Mottola is GRF’s first director of community services, having started in Rossmoor on Monday. This position oversees the new Community Services Department.
  • Martijn Lemmons, who has been GRF’s trust maintenance manager, has been promoted to the new position of manager of Trust assets, overseeing trust facility maintenance, vehicle maintenance, capital projects, regulatory compliance and the RV lot. Lemmons will report to Mottola.
  • John Raith has been promoted from trust facilities foreman to Trust assets supervisor. The position of operations manager has been phased out, and one of the currently vacant trust maintenance positions also will not be filled. The Department of Trust Maintenance has been abolished, with its functions now under the Community Services Department.
  • Kelly Berto has been promoted from recreation manager to the new position of senior manager of resident services, which will oversee Recreation, Counseling Services, Custodial, Transportation, Fitness and Aquatics. She will report to Mottola.
  • Director of Golf Mark Heptig and Public Safety Manager Tom Cashion, whose job titles and functions will not change, report to Mottola as well.

GRF is seeking a new director of Mutual operations to succeed Donner upon his retirement in late summer.

Pickleball structure progress

Fred Ponce, project manager for the pickleball courts project near the Event Center, said a more highly detailed artist’s depiction of the proposed courts project should be available by June. It would offer a first detailed look at some of the finer points of the project, including landscaping.

“We haven’t seen the aesthetics, and residents need to see that, and we need to see that,” GRF Board President Dwight Walker told the Planning Committee. Fellow GRF Board member James Lee said he wants a “clear picture” of what GRF is buying with the structure and doesn’t want any surprises about that.

Ponce said changes in the project dictated by the physical separation of the pickleball courts from an adjacent solar energy panel structure shouldn’t alter the physical appearance, or the footprint size, of the pickleball courts project.

“If you need to visualize something,” Ponce told the committee Thursday, “I’d be happy to sketch it out for you.”