Monday, July 4, 2022

Novant looks at Princess Place for second Michael Jordan clinic, openings delayed

Novant announced a $10M gift from Michael Jordan to open two clinics in New Hanover County in February. The clinics will serve uninsured and underinsured individuals, and Novant has asked the county to donate the land for the clinics. (Port City Daily/File)

WILMINGTON — After turning down a land donation from the City of Wilmington, Novant Health has set its sights on Princess Place for one of two Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinics coming to the area.

Spokesperson Julian March confirmed the hospital is undergoing due diligence in purchasing land in the Princess Place Drive corridor and expects to open that facility in 2024, about two years later than initially anticipated. According to public emails, the property of interest is owned by the Wilmington Housing Authority.

Previously, the affordable health clinic was supposed to go on city-owned land next to DREAMS, the youth-based arts nonprofit with kaleidoscopic murals out front. The City of Wilmington agreed to donate 2 acres of an 8-acre grassy lot at North 10th and Fanning streets, but it was later informed the hospital was looking elsewhere for a spot that better fit the vision.

“We evaluated site locations using search criteria that was intentional to ensure these clinics are positioned to have the greatest impact on health equity gaps and best meet the needs of the community,” March said. “We also listened to community feedback and adjusted plans accordingly.”

A similar undertaking to address health disparities is now in the works for the 906 Fanning St. location. As part of a “community building” plan to curb violence, New Hanover County is working with the long-planned Northside Food Co-op to open a $2.5-million grocery store that would relieve a 35-year food desert. 

The county asked the city to transfer just over 2 acres for the store. Currently, the city is working to subdivide and rezone the property before council members finalize the donation in a vote. The two-tract subdivision plan is going through the technical review committee under the project name “The Oasis,” likely a reference to providing nutrients in the food “desert.”

In a recent development, Novant expressed renewed interest in the Fanning Street site for a different purpose. The hospital is closing a downtown EMS facility to accommodate Project Grace, a plan to redevelop 3 acres of county-owned blocks, including the library and Cape Fear Museum. According to public emails, the hospital system is struggling to pin down a new location within the service area that is suitable for storing ambulances.

“We have evaluated multiple properties for the next location in our downtown EMS district but haven’t yet made a determination,” March said.

Spokesperson Alex​ Riley confirmed the county was approached about sharing the land, but discussions have yet to transpire.

“The county’s team is planning to learn more from Novant about what their needs are and whether that could fit on the site, from a space and a zoning perspective,” Riley said.

For the Jordan clinic on the Southside, New Hanover County has transferred land at 15th and Greenfield streets for the “Greenfield Street location.” The clinic could start seeing patients by summer 2023.

Two Michael Jordan clinics opened in 2019 and 2020 in Charlotte for the uninsured or under-insured.

The basketball star contributed $7 million to open the facilities in Mecklenburg County, where he owns the Hornets team. His combined donation for the duo Wilmington medical offices is $10 million.

Jordan grew up in Wilmington and was a star basketball player at Laney High before heading to UNC and then rocketing to fame on the Chicago Bulls.


Reach journalist Alexandria Sands at alexandria@localdailymedia.com or @alexsands_

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Alexandria Sands
Alexandria Sands is a journalist covering New Hanover County and education. Before Port City Daily, she reported for the award-winning State Port Pilot in Southport. She graduated from UNC Charlotte and wrote for several Charlotte publications while there. When not writing, Williams is most likely in the gym, reading or spending time with her Golden Pyrenees. Reach her at alexandria@localdailymedia.com or on Twitter @alexsands_

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