Upate: A Field of Dreams in Healthcare Innovation

Union Village concept spurs interest from visiting Chinese delegation

By Conor Shine (contact)
Saturday, June 16, 2012 | 2 a.m.

Although they haven’t put any shovels in the ground yet, developers behind the $1.5 billion Union Village medical complex in Henderson already are imagining global possibilities for their project.

On Friday, a 25-person delegation from China visited Lake Las Vegas in Henderson to meet with the Union Village developers and city officials to learn more about the “integrated health village” model the complex is being designed around.

“In December of last year, I was in Las Vegas and learned for the first time about Union Village,” said Gao Zhansheng, consul general of China in San Francisco. “I was very impressed by the concept. … It was love at first sight. I said to myself, ‘I should tell my fellow countrymen in China.’”

The Union Village project, which will be built on 150 acres near U.S. 95 and Galleria Drive, was first announced in April 2011. The project is massive in scope — four hospitals; 1,000 residential units for senior living; and hundreds of thousands of square feet of medical office space built into a mixed-use development that would also include restaurants, shopping, hotels and a movie theater.

The project is the first of its kind in the country and aims to create a convenient, connected location for people seeking medical care, whether it’s cancer treatment, acute care or physical therapy.

“We think of it as a more efficient, more cost-effective way to build a health care center,” David Baker, a Union Village partner, said in an April interview.

It is those potential efficiencies that drew the attention of the delegates from China, where demand for medical services is rapidly increasing and medical infrastructure is still developing.

“We want to introduce the concept to them and look for applicability of similar model in China,” said Ken Pyatt, spokesman for the Las Vegas Regional Center, which helped facilitate the visit. “(The Union Village model) really gives you the opportunity to build more efficiently because of the scale, and when (the Chinese) think of scale, it’s in a whole different realm of what we’re thinking.”

During the weekend visit, the Chinese delegation – which includes members of the country’s Ministry of Commerce, its Chamber of Commerce, several medical companies and staff from the Chinese Consulate General in San Francisco – will visit two St. Rose Dominican hospitals in Henderson and also go see the site where Union Village will be built, even though construction won’t start until at least 2013.

Pyatt said after completing Union Village, its developers will have a knowledge base that can be applied to other projects around the world.

The weekend’s meetings will give the delegation an in-depth look at the potential for “integrated health villages” in their own country and also build relationships that may lead to investment in Union Village in Henderson.

“The project of Union Village could be a very good project for China to invest in,” Gao said. “It would be a good example of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and the United States.”