Groundbreaking held for new $18 million AL!VE health and wellness facility in Charlotte

After nearly three-years of research, planning and preparation, Hayes Green Beach Memorial Hospital and the Charlotte community will soon see a vision for an experience-based health park come to life. AL!VE is an $18 million initiative focused on improving the health and wellness of thousands of residents throughout Charlotte and the greater Lansing area.

"This project has come to fruition not only because of a courageous hospital board but also due to the many partnerships formed along the way," states Matthew Rush, FACHE, president and CEO of HGB. "It is because of our work with community organizations, business leaders, government officials and many others that we are realizing this vision and seeing it become alive."

The groundbreaking took place at the facility's future site: the former Felpausch grocery store and CVS Pharmacy at 800 W. Lawrence Avenue in Charlotte.

Offering an integrated set of health and wellness tools, AL!VE will include a wellness/fitness center, physical rehabilitation services, women's health options, integrative medicine, spa services, café and demonstration kitchen, walking trails, community rooms and much more. Providing the community with the resources it needs to improve overall health, it will serve as a community asset that helps facilitate economic growth by creating a more vibrant place to live and work.

"AL!VE is designed to be dynamic, fluid and changing," states Patrick Sustrich, MS, director of health and wellness services at HGB, who will also oversee AL!VE's construction and operations. "It will engage all of the senses of those utilizing its services through its unique environmental experiences."

Some of these experiences include structural elements such as glass walls that bring in daylight and sensory elements like the sounds and sights of water, music and nature.

Upon final completion of the entire project, AL!VE will be an 80,000- square-foot health and wellness facility for the community to experience and enjoy. The first stage of the project, which began today, will be complete in fall 2011. The remainder will be developed over the following one to two years, commensurate with community support.

"Ultimately, we hope the community will take ownership of what this facility has to offer," states Rush. "In this way, people will come to understand that they are an essential part of the success and vitality of their community."

Initial funding of $10 million has been allocated to the project from HGB. This funding was made possible in part by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's hospital-specific Program 242, which is guaranteeing HGB's financing ability.

"Getting approval to refinance required nearly a year's worth of work, states Rush. "Our strong balance sheet, considerable market presence, streamlined operational ability, focused strategic direction, and exceptional board and medical leadership were all key factors in securing HUD's support."

Additional funding from grants and corporate and individual donors is being pursued. Early fundraising efforts have raised $1.8 million. The community's support will play a vital role in the full completion of the project.

"This is truly an exciting time for the hospital, Charlotte and the greater Lansing region," states Rush. "We'd like to see this area become alive through a sense of commitment to better health and overall well-being. In the end, it's part of what makes any community or region thrive."
Along with key hospital and community leaders speaking at the event, HGB shared the renderings of AL!VE, provided history and photos of the project's evolution so far, and answered questions from the media.

Construction also began today as the groundbreaking festivities were ending. David E. Johnson Architects (DEJA) is providing architectural services. Southland Construction is handling construction management and was assisted locally in the subcontractor bidding process by Viele Construction of Charlotte. While more than 150 temporary construction jobs will be created for the AL!VE project, approximately 30 new jobs will be created to operate the facility.

For more information, contact Carrie Rathbun Hawks, HGB’s Director of Marketing Communications, at 517-541-5913, 517-896-4763 or by email at or (wireless accessibility).