Bozeman is set to get a new 97,000-square-foot clinic as Montana’s largest health organization widens its mark in the state’s fastest growing city.

Billings Clinic has owned a roughly 54-acre field in west Bozeman since 2016. The nonprofit has since been piecing together the infrastructure needed for the land west of Costco but remained quiet on its plans.

Clinic officials announced the roughly $40 million expansion they’re calling a destination ambulatory center Tuesday to a crowd at the Museum of the Rockies lobby.

Billings Clinic CEO Randall Gibb said the project is the first phase of potentially five phases for the multi-speciality clinic the organization is still defining.

“The way we have devised this campus is based upon the inherent growth of Bozeman,” Gibb said.

He said what all goes into the clinic is still uncertain as the organization looks for what’s lacking in town. The building will include an urgent care and outpatient surgery center with 23-hour stay capabilities for patients.

President of Billings Clinic Foundation Jim Duncan said the project could add 150 new jobs in the first phase and cost between $35 to $40 million.

He said the organization will submit plans to the city for review this month. The project could break ground in 2019 and open within the next three years.

Duncan said Tuesday’s announcement is part of the effort to ensure Montanans can access the care they need where they live. That echoes other recent health system expansion efforts across Montana.

Once the clinic is standing, it will be the provider’s third and largest Bozeman site and pull its other locations onto one campus. Billings Clinic’s OB-GYN office on Highland Boulevard has been in Bozeman more than a decade. In 2017, the organization bought Acorn Pediatrics.

In recent years, some Bozeman residents have called for more competition within the town’s health infrastructure.

Dr. Sam Silitti, department chair of Billings Clinic Bozeman OB-GYN, said Bozeman’s population rise calls for more services.

“I believe that this community is ready for a choice in health care, but more importantly, this community needs expanded services,” Silitti said. “The growth is just too fast, and Billings Clinic is primed to help offer that care.”

Bozeman’s long standing health system and Billings Clinic have eyed some of the same spots in south central Montana in recent years.

The organization’s latest news arrives seven months after Bozeman Health announced plans for a $75.5 million expansion to create southwest Montana’s first infant intensive care unit and to double the size of its existing ICU.

In 2013, Bozeman Health decided to build a hospital in Big Sky, despite a local committee’s vote to support a competing Billings Clinic proposal.

Both health systems are widening their blueprint.

For Bozeman Health, between the start of 2014 and end of 2017, the system went from 1,737 employees to 2,164.

Billings Clinic has 13 regional affiliates and counting across Montana and Wyoming. This month, Powell Valley Healthcare of Big Horn Basin approved a letter of intent to examine joining the clinic.

Bozeman Health CEO John Hill said the health system continues to grow to keep up with the area’s needs.

“We’ve been through every economic challenge and prosperity growing with our community,” Hill said. “We’ve been here for a very long time and expect to be here for quite some time into the future.”

He said beyond the latest expansion, Bozeman Health recently invested in cardiovascular physician specialities, built a cancer team with oncology services and expanded surgical procedures. Hill said the system would take anything that could threaten the viability of those practices “very seriously.” He said where Bozeman’s stretched thin is within limited behavioral health services.

Bozeman City Commissioners I-Ho Pomeroy and Terry Cunningham stood in the crowd Tuesday. Cunningham, a former Bozeman Health board of trustee, said for Bozeman’s sake, he’s excited to hear about the expansion. Though he said there’s so much unknown at this point, he’ll be watching for more project details and how community conversations shape that.

“It would be my hope that they would service the entire community regardless of economic status or inability to pay no matter which specialties or service lines they choose to bring in,” he said.

Billings Clinic is interviewing architects and beginning to pick a general contractor for the project. The future campus plans also include a trail and sidewalk network with a community pavilion.

Gibb said the organization will reach out to the medical community and residents to learn more about what Bozeman needs.

He said the organization ran a feasibility study of Bozeman’s health needs before deciding to make the move. Gibb said if there’s some overlap between the clinic and the town’s existing health system, it’s one the town’s population can handle.

Katheryn Houghton can be reached at khoughton@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628. Follow her on Twitter @K_Hought.

Katheryn Houghton is the city government and health reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

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