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A large site in downtown Cloverdale that has sat empty for years is getting closer to becoming home for several pressing community needs, including a new health clinic, police station and youth skate park.

Plans for a new $16 million wellness center for Alexander Valley Healthcare advanced last week after the City Council approved an agreement to exclusively negotiate with the health center to sell a portion of the city-owned property to the nonprofit entity for an undisclosed price.

The agreement will help the health center secure some grant funding for a long-planned new home and move out of a cramped facility serving a steadily growing number of patients.

“We are pretty excited,” Alexander Valley Healthcare CEO Deborah Howell said of the prospect of a larger, modern facility. “We are at capacity. We can’t even expect to have more patients. We don’t have any room.”

The city and the health center still need to finalize a price for the property along with a development agreement, design review and use-permit approval. Health center officials have a target date for completion of the new facility in early 2019.

The only primary care provider between Healdsburg and Ukiah, Alexander Valley Healthcare is anticipated to have the first building constructed on the 5-acre, city-owned lot just south of the Citrus Fairgrounds.

“I’m looking forward to that facility being built,” Councilman Joe Palla said.

The city bought the land, known as Thyme Square, eight years ago for $3.1 million in redevelopment funds from a struggling developer whose plans for a supermarket, retail space and housing fell through.

Cloverdale intends to build an approximately $13 million, 16,000-square-foot police station there to replace the current cramped, antiquated station with seismic safety issues.

A skate park is also slated for part of the site, close to Washington School, although its funding — $220,000 plus land costs — is more tenuous than for the police and health care center, which have some partial funding already and are eligible for grants and low-interest loans.

The city is also setting aside 25,000 square feet at Thyme Square for a two-story combined retail/office building. City Manager Paul Cayler said it is not enough space for a major retailer, but a boutique hotel might be acceptable.

Plans also call for extending South Washington Street along the west perimeter of the site to connect with Healdsburg Avenue.

In the meantime, Alexander Valley Healthcare is drawing up plans for a three-story, 40,000-square-foot building that will include primary care, alternative wellness programs, and dental and oral health care, as well as a demonstration kitchen.

Plans also call for enough space to lease to other entities to provide physical therapy, podiatry and chiropractic services.

Alexander Valley Healthcare has been in Cloverdale since 1994 and steadily grown, serving patients on Medicare and Medi-Cal, private insurance and the uninsured. The center serves about 4,200 unique patients per year, who tally more than 28,000 visits.

The Affordable Care Act led to a significant increase in the number of patients, Howell said, but even if it is repealed by the Republican-led Congress there is still a need for the new facility.

“The reality is people will still need health care. Our mission is to provide services to everyone,” she said, adding that there is a sliding fee for the uninsured.

“People still need care — diabetes, hypertension, chronic illness, it’s not going to go away,” she said.“Children still need vaccines to get to school and babies still get born.”

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