Hospital Plans Clinic, Pharmacy in Lee, N.H.

LEE -- Dover-based Wentworth-Douglass Hospital is planning a 30-acre development near the Lee Traffic Circle to include a medical clinic and pharmacy.

The project's first phase is slated to start in September on land across Route 125 from Market Basket.

Construction is expected to take 18 to 20 months.

The initial phase will include a two-story, 27,876-square-foot building split into two by a pharmacy drive-thru in the middle, according to plans submitted to the Lee Planning Board. A second phase, including six more buildings in a "campus-like setting" on the rest of the property's 30.13 acres, has been proposed but is "purely conceptual" at this point, hospital officials said yesterday.

The local planning board approved Wentworth-Douglass' plans for the first phase of development at its meeting June 13, Lee Planning Director Allan Dennis said. He said the next step will be to issue a building permit.

Wentworth Douglass' clinic will be the first such facility in Lee, offering both doctor and lab services, and is expected to address a growing need among residents who often must trek to Dover for medical care, hospital spokeswoman Noreen Biehl said.

"Our goal is to provide as many services as possible in community locations to quell some of the incredible growth and traffic at our hospital in Dover," she said.

Biehl would not give a cost estimate for the project and said figures have not been finalized yet.

The Lee clinic is Wentworth-Douglass' second to provide lab services outside of Dover, Biehl said. The first is at Great Bay Family Practice in Newmarket. She said the hospital does not plan to move any services from Dover, but will offer more services at other locations, a move that is expected to expand its reach in the region.

The ground floor of one half of the project's first phase will include a medical clinic with lab and X-ray services while the other ground floor will house a pharmacy with drive-thru.

The second floor, covering the entire building, will have office space for a primary care medical practice and administrative offices. The number of staff working on the floor has not yet been determined, officials said.

With about 15,000 cars traveling through each day, the Lee traffic circle at the intersections of Routes 4 and 125 has become a popular site for development, Dennis said. In the past seven years, businesses such as Wendy's, Dunkin' Donuts, Sunoco and, most recently, Northeast Credit Union, have all moved either in or near to the circle, with more on the way, he said.

"Everyone we've worked with, they want to be in that circle or just next to it," he said.

The latest developer, Wentworth-Douglass excluded, is expected to be Walgreens, which has plans to build a 14,000-square-foot store and pharmacy, with a drive-thru, at the current site of the Lee Circle Grocery just south of the hospital's planned clinic, Dennis said.

But despite working with town officials for the last seven months, the Walgreens project has stalled as developers await a wetlands permit from the state Department of Environmental Services, he said.