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Hospital breaks ground on “sexy” parking garage

Can a parking garage be sexy? Just ask Dick Schmidt.

The Schmidt Family Foundation donated $10 million to solve Boca Raton Regional Hospital’s longstanding parking problem.

“Why a parking garage? It’s so unsexy. But I think this is a sexy parking garage,” Schmidt said light-heartedly at Wednesday’s groundbreaking.

Patients and visitors want convenience and easy access, he said turning serious. “That’s their first and last impression.”

Even his wife Barbara wasn’t onboard at first, until she saw how much that meant to her own family, she said.

Construction on the 972-space Schmidt Family Parking is visibly under way across from the main building at 800 Meadows Road. Plans call for access to the new hospital lobby.

At the groundbreaking were, from left, Marilyn Barry, Stanley Barry, Andrea Levine O’Rourke, Christine E. Lynn, Michelle Maros, Richard Schmidt, Barbara Schmidt, Mayor Scott Singer, Mark Larkin, Jerry Fedele Photo by Downtown Photo

It could take a year, board chair Christine Lynn told guests assembled under a tent for the ceremony.

In the meantime, the hospital has hired more golf cart drivers to ferry patients and visitors. Employees can park off-site and take a shuttle to the campus.

Schmidt was already talking about building a parking garage when he hired him to run the hospital more than 10 years ago, president and CEO Jerry Fedele said.

So, will the Schmidts get their own dedicated parking space since their name’s on the building? “We may have a parking space auction,” for naming rights, Fedele said jokingly.

The garage is the first project in the hospital’s plans that include a new, seven-story patient tower and other major expansions.

Garage construction plans were on hold for almost a year. They resumed last spring once a lawsuit over location by neighbors was resolved.

By Marci Shatzman

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