Jeff Hunnicutt, CEO of Highlands Oncology Group, said employees would begin to move into the cancer care provider’s new $30 million building in Springdale in the next few weeks.
“Barring any unforeseen setbacks, we will begin moving in at the end of June and will be seeing patients by the middle of July,” Hunnicutt said. “It’s an exciting time for us as we gear up to better serve patients who are fighting cancer in Northwest Arkansas.”
Highlands, which originated in 1996 with medical oncologists Thaddeus Beck, Daniel Bradford and Malcolm Hayward, is a multidisciplinary practice with multiple specialists. Physicians and staff hosted a groundbreaking at the Springdale site in November 2018. Hunnicutt said the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic had not delayed construction. Arvest Bank is financing construction and C.R. Crawford Construction is the contractor. Crafton Tull and Tatum Smith Welcher Engineers are also working on the project.
In September 2018, Highlands completed a $3.2 million purchase of 8 acres off Interstate 49, at the southeast corner of Don Tyson Parkway and Gene George Boulevard. The site is almost halfway between Highlands’ Fayetteville location on North Hills Boulevard and the newer location in Rogers, just north of Pinnacle Hills.
The five-story, 125,000-square-foot Springdale building is part of the 27-acre commercial project in development called Parkway Plaza, led by Cushman & Wakefield/Sage Partners in Rogers and Griffin Co. Realtors of Springdale.
Hunnicutt, who began his tenure as Highlands’ first CEO on Oct. 1, 2018, said Highlands has roughly 425 employees. About 200 will work at the Springdale building. That includes some new hires.
“We’ll hire between 25 and 30 new staff members initially,” he said. “A year or two into operations, I’m sure that will change.”
Hunnicutt said Highlands would house its research division in Springdale, and some other services in Fayetteville will consolidate in the new building. The research department operates numerous clinical trials in both oncology and hematology.
Highlands will occupy about 75% of the building, with space split between the fourth and fifth floors available for lease. Hunnicutt said there have been “very good discussions” with a couple of potential tenants, but no agreements signed yet.
Hunnicutt was previously the COO at Northwest Medical Specialties in Tacoma, Wash. He said he’d overseen new construction projects before during his oncology career, but not one of this scale.
“For community oncology, this [would be considered] a very large building,” he said. “To have this in place as Northwest Arkansas continues to grow is something we are excited about.”