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Highland Hospital / Facilities / Planned Development District

Highland Hospital’s Planned Development District

Highland Hospital has officially been approved by the City of Rochester for a new Planned Development District. This plan is a result of years of discussion and compromise with the hospital’s surrounding neighbors. You can view the final approved PD here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Planned Development District (PDD)?

A PDD outlines permitted uses for the district and defines its boundaries including building heights, setbacks, materials and other characteristics.


Why does Highland need updated zoning?

Highland’s zoning designation was outdated due to changes in city zoning regulations. In order to do any further campus development or redevelopment, the hospital had to be rezoned. In 2014, when Highland first considered building its current southeast wing, neighbors understood we could put it in place with a variance to our current zoning. When the City of Rochester granted the variance, it said rezoning would be needed for any future development.


What does the final Planned Development District look like?

You can see a map of the final PDD here.

As a result of feedback from our neighborhood, Highland made the following changes to the Planned Development District:

  • We reduced maximum building heights in center campus from 11 stories/178 feet to 9 stories/155 feet. We require up to 155 feet in the center of campus in order to have flexibility for future needs, including possible reconstruction of the West Tower, sometime in the next 25-35 years.
  • On the corner of Mt. Vernon Ave. and Rockingham St., Highland reduced the maximum building height along the perimeter of the campus from 94 to 60 feet.

We have also included or adjusted these additional items based on input from our neighbors and the city since submitting our application in August 2018:

  • Increased setbacks on South Avenue from 5 to 20 feet
  • Added 20-foot no build zone on Rockingham Street
  • Added 30-foot no build zone along Bellevue Drive
  • Enhanced landscaping and screening plans on Rockingham Street
  • Changed reference from number of stories to actual height in feet


What is the Private Bed Modernization Project?

Highland is proposing a modernization project that will enable the hospital to provide private rooms for nearly all of our patients. The project was developed as a component of Highland’s strategic plan.

Private rooms will improve patient care and provide benefits to patients, including a reduced risk of hospital-acquired infections, more space for patient needs, and the positive therapeutic impact of more privacy and less noise during recovery. Moreover, private rooms are becoming a standard of care for hospitals nationwide.

It is imperative that Highland Hospital continue to modernize our facility to provide the highest-quality patient- and family-centered care, now and into the future. Parts of Highland’s campus are nearly 95 years old, and some patient spaces do not meet the current industry standards for health care facilities. 


What are the details of the project? What type of structure is Highland proposing to build?

While design of the structure has been started but not yet completed, Highland proposes to add 68,000 square feet to the existing hospital campus– without acquiring any additional land. The project will add four levels to the hospital’s southeast wing – three floors for a total of 58 patient rooms and a floor for other clinical programs. The project will elevate the wing from its current three levels to seven floors total, the same floor count as the hospital’s East and West towers, but higher in overall feet. There will also be a small seven story infill between the existing three-story building and the existing South Wing.


Has Highland worked with its neighbors on this project?

Since 2014, Highland officials have met regularly with two groups. One is a steering committee focused on zoning and construction projects. The goal of the other is to promote healthy dialog between Highland and its neighbors about day-to-day concerns, such as parking and noise. 

Two years ago, Highland shared a proposed plan with its neighbors, which called for tearing down the hospital’s South wing on Mt. Vernon Avenue and building a new structure, with up to seven stories, directly on Mt. Vernon. We received feedback from the neighbors that this was not a proposal that they would support given the height and lack of setbacks from the street. The neighbors also offered their own proposal for how they’d like Highland’s campus to develop, with a pyramid-type structure in the center of the campus. Highland is unable to pursue the neighbor’s proposal, due to the fact that it is infeasible from an operational perspective and also cost prohibitive.

In 2015, Highland made clear that the Southeast addition, completed in fall 2016, was constructed and designed to allow for an additional four floors. Responding to neighborhood concerns about our original plan to demolish the south wing and build a new taller structure, as a compromise, we decided to move forward with an option we originally discussed in 2015. We briefed the neighbors at a meeting on July 25 on the proposal, and submitted our PDD application to the city in late August.

After multiple rounds of revisions and compromise with neighbors, Highland’s rezoning was passed by the Planning Commission and City Council in March 2019.


How will Highland continue to address parking?

We continue to explore solutions that would expand our number of parking spaces for staff to minimize neighborhood impact, including expanding our current shuttling system and creating new outpatient offices offsite. For example, in 2018 Highland moved the outpatient Cardiology services to Red Creek, which shifted the parking needs of 60-to-120 patients a day and more than 30 employees. Highland is also meeting monthly with neighbors to discuss potential solutions for the neighborhood’s current parking situation through the Parking Task Force.


Will this impact the levels of traffic in the neighborhood?

Highland conducted a traffic study in 2015 that showed we are still below the traffic threshold that would have a negative impact on the neighborhood.


Will noise from the hospital increase with this new addition?

This is still in the planning stages but we fully intend to utilize the new technology we used with the South addition to keep noise levels to a minimum.


Won’t the new addition have a negative impact on neighbors’ views of the city and cause shade problems for immediate neighbors?

Neighbors on Bellevue Dr. currently look at the hospital. The difference is that the three story structure added in 2016 will now be four stories taller. The new structure, although visible from Bellevue Dr. and Mt. Vernon Ave., will not cast shadows onto neighboring properties according to a study conducted by Holt Architects.


One of the new floors would be for other clinical programs and another floor is strictly for the building’s mechanicals. Why must these floors be part of the tower?

The three patient care room levels must be fifth floor and above due to the requirement for windows in every patient room. The fourth floor will be for other clinical programs, which is essential for the hospital’s ability to function, but does not require windows. The mechanical level that’s currently on the top (third floor) of the South Addition will remain, as it supplies the mechanics for the operating rooms on the first floor. Another mechanical penthouse will be added to the top of the new addition to accommodate the medical equipment needed to run the new floors.


Where will the hospital build next on its campus? Will they buy neighboring properties to host future additions?

Currently, we do not have any plans for new buildings beyond the private bed addition. Highland is continually modernizing space within the existing buildings, which is historically where most of the hospital’s construction has taken place. The south addition was added in 2016, but the last major change in the hospital footprint before that was the front lobby/garage rebuild in the 1980s.


How can I receive updates about this project and other projects going on at Highland Hospital?

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