A Bel Air developer has enlisted a New Jersey-based medical-diagnostic company as the major tenant for a planned medical park to serve Harford County's growing population.
The developer, Clark Turner Companies, says the proposed Colonnade Medical Park in Bel Air will provide vital diagnostic services for physicians throughout the county and in nearby areas.
NMR of America Inc. of Morristown, N.J., has agreed to lease a one-story entire building -- which represents half of the project's 16,000 square feet -- to build a modern imaging center. The center is to provide around-the-clock availability of magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound, CAT scan, mammography and other diagnostic tools.
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, is a technology that uses a magnet and radio waves to create detailed images of parts of the body. The image picks up electronic charges put off by cells and identifies anomalies such as tumors.
As the county has grown, so has the need for a variety of outpatient services, said Charles H. Shaw 3rd, NMR's director of operations. He said many of the 250 physicians in the county now send patients to hospitals and clinics in Baltimore and elsewhere in the region for some tests.
Modern diagnostic equipment is on hand at Harford hospitals, but Shaw maintained that some of NMR's equipment will be more advanced and available more frequently.
Officials at Upper Chesapeake Health Systems, which operates Fallston General Hospital near Bel Air and Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace, dispute NMR's claim.
"There is nothing that they are going to offer that we are not already offering," said Cate Albright, Upper Chesapeake's vice president for marketing.
Shaw said that his company was forming a panel of physicians to advise the center on ways to keep in step with advances in medical technology.
He said radiologists and other technicians will be on call 24 hours a day for emergencies. In addition, he said, the center will provide reports to physicians within 24 hours of performing tests.
NMR said it will be the managing partner in a limited partnership that is to operate the imaging center. The company, which operates 12 similar centers around the country, said it will own a minimum of 50 percent of the center. NMR also is putting up $3.5 million in initial expenses for equipment and improvements.
Clark Turner, president of Clark Turner Companies, said he hoped construction would begin within about a month at the 1 1/2 -acre site at Md. 22 and Maitland Street. The center is expected to be open by late summer, Turner said.
He said he also is negotiating leases with as many as eight physicians for office space in the remainder of the center.
Turner, a well-known Harford builder who also is vice president and secretary of the Home Builders Association of Maryland, said he still must secure some local permits before beginning construction.
He said the medical park would consist of two brick buildings -- one to house the imaging center and one to house physicians' RTC offices. The design incorporates colonial and agricultural features and will include extensive landscaping, he said.
"I think the town is very receptive to the type of buildings we're putting in," Turner said. "We're going to try to do a real special job there."