Butler Hospital’s campus, with its desirable Blackstone Boulevard address and sweeping views of the Seekonk River, occupies 110 of the more valuable acres of real estate on Providence’s East Side.
So it was unsurprising five years ago when the owners of the 168-year-old psychiatric hospital, which was already overcrowded, openly considered selling the property and building a new facility in a less exclusive neighborhood.
To Butler and owner Care New England officials now, those old plans to sell the historic Blackstone campus and move to the Knowledge District along with a new Brown University medical school seem a long way off.
Instead of leaving the East Side, Butler is expanding there and is poised to satisfy its need for more space with a new 50,000-square-foot inpatient and admissions center set among the existing hospital buildings.
“Replicating the facilities to accommodate the needs of 170 patients now would be very expensive – that would be a waste of resources,” said Butler President and CEO Dr. Patricia Recupero. “Many people believe the [Blackstone] setting is conducive to the recovery of the patients, more than an inner city or traditional hospital location.”
When construction begins this spring, the $17 million Butler expansion will be one of the largest construction projects in the state during a prolonged period of depressed building activity.
The project is expected to add 26 beds, create between 150 and 200 temporary construction jobs and then another 68 new permanent positions with Butler, including 19 nurses, 16 mental health workers, two social workers, two physicians, two housekeepers and two administrative-support positions.