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Developer moves Beebe-anchored complex outside Milton

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Phoenix RHCS Holdings has resubmitted plans for a medical pavilion on the outskirts of Milton.

MILTON — After withdrawing plans to construct a $35 million medical office complex in downtown Milton, developer Phoenix RHCS Holdings has moved the project 3 miles outside town limits with the help of a new partner.

Phoenix RHCS Holdings principal owner Chris Selzer announced that he was working with well-known local firm DiSabatino Construction to build Jerry Ann McLamb Medical Pavilion at the intersection of Routes 16 and 30. 

Preliminary site plans approved by the Sussex County Planning Commission show a single 40,000-square-foot building, but Selzer confirmed the campus envisions at least two buildings, with the possibility of a third in the future.

“We are excited to partner with DiSabatino Construction on this project. We had many options as we considered the future of the Jerry Ann McLamb Medical Pavilion, but DiSabatino has the experience in construction and design, and that is no small matter,” Selzer told Delaware Business Times.

“We’re thrilled to have such a partnership with a major medical operator with a vision for this property,” added Kevin DiSabatino, vice president of business development and real estate for the namesake firm.

The pavilion’s name honors Selzer’s mother-in-law McLamb, a Milton native and dedicated Beebe registered nurse who died in 2018. She graduated from the Beebe School of Nursing and spent most of her 50-year career in the health system.

Phoenix RHCS first proposed the medical campus in downtown Milton in early 2020, with Beebe Healthcare’s support. Beebe plans to use the space for outpatient services such as primary and walk-in care, specialists, lab and rehabilitation services, and diagnostic imaging. 

“My mother-in-law introduced me to [Beebe Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer] Rick Schaffner socially,” Seltzer said. “But while we were making plans for this complex, we knew that Beebe would be a natural fit for us. Not only because they’re delivering great health care in Sussex, but because of that connection. Jerry even has bricks placed in front of Beebe’s Lewes campus. That connection is important.”

But public outcry over commercial ventures in residential areas and unfavorable recommendations from the town’s Planning Commission led Phoenix RHCS Holdings to withdraw its application.

“We wanted to remain close to Milton, and in order to facilitate the project moving forward more quickly, we decided to look for property outside town limits,” Selzer said.

The proposed campus would be on 142 acres owned by DiSabatino Construction, which was acquired decades ago. It was rezoned in the mid-2000s with the hope of developing the land into a commercial and residential complex, but the company opted to wait out the recession before moving forward.

DiSabatino declined to comment on whether those plans were still moving forward. However, the application to the county Planning Commission notes that Phoenix RHCS Holdings is pursuing a minor subdivision along with the medical complex.

Beebe Healthcare spokesman Ryan Marshall confirmed that Beebe will be a tenant of the McLamb Medical Pavilion, and that Beebe is “ecstatic to have the opportunity to expand the medical services we offer in Milton.”

The pavilion will be Beebe’s most northern location, continuing a string of recent expansions through Sussex County. This spring, Beebe opened a freestanding emergency department and a cancer center at the Beebe South Coastal Health Campus in Frankford. Construction work is underway at Beebe’s $124 million surgical hospital on Route 24 near Rehoboth Beach with a target opening in 2022.

“Now, more than ever, it is essential that Milton residents, and the surrounding community, have access to local and readily accessible health care,” Marshall said in an email to DBT. “As the approval process continues, we look forward to sharing more information about Beebe’s presence on the campus.”

Construction on the McLamb Medical Pavilion is expected to start this summer, pending the county’s planning process, and Beebe is currently slated to open the doors of its offices at the end of 2022.

By Katie Tabeling

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