Sanford Health is considering a new hospital in Fargo costing more than $200 million.
The system's board will look at a plan this week that could put a new health center in North Dakota's largest city sometime between 2013 and 2016.
The hospital would be the largest single project for the network since a merger last year united Sanford of Sioux Falls with MeritCare of Fargo.
At an estimated $200 million to $300 million, it would be the largest project in Fargo history and twice the cost of any building ever to go up in Sioux Falls.
"This would probably be a record-breaking project," said Dennis Millirons, president of the MeritCare Medical Center in Fargo. "We would anticipate opening in 2016."
Sanford-MeritCare has two other hospitals in Fargo. One is a 380-bed downtown center on 20 acres. The second is a 200-bed unit on a smaller campus.
The new hospital would go up on 100 acres MeritCare bought in 2000 at the Agassiz Crossing development in south Fargo.
"The new facility would take us into the 100-year future," Millirons said.
The intent is to keep the other locations open, but officials don't know their function or how many beds the new unit would have.
Sanford's main hospital in Sioux Falls has 545 beds.
Millirons said board members would discuss the new hospital as a concept this week in a strategic planning retreat.
"If the board agrees with us, we need to start the planning process," he said.
He thinks the issue is not a matter of yes or no, but of how to proceed.
"Our trustees and senior management think that we have to do something here," he said.
The Fargo plans come on top of other expansions for Sanford-MeritCare, which in July will shorten its name to Sanford.
A $73 million heart hospital will open next year at 18th and Grange in Sioux Falls. The new Sanford Center opened here last week as a research and corporate headquarters.
Also last week, officials gave details for children's clinics in Oregon and Ireland and a $12 million fitness center in Fargo that Sanford and the YMCA will operate as equal partners.