Occupancy at the Delaware Health Center on OhioHealth Boulevard, just east of U.S. Route 23 in southern Delaware, will be delayed about three to six months.

Occupancy at the Delaware Health Center on OhioHealth Boulevard, just east of U.S. Route 23 in southern Delaware, will be delayed about three to six months.

Grady Memorial Hospital and OhioHealth officials are blaming the economic downturn for a delay in the opening.

The building, with office space for physicians and outpatient healthcare services, was scheduled to open this summer. Construction of the 60,000 square foot building is on schedule.

"It's a matter of timing," Grady president Steve Garlock told the Delaware City Council this month.

Garlock was at the meeting where council approved the preliminary development plan for the entire 105-acre site, of which the health center is a component.

"We had a significant number of physicians ready to lease space before the economy soured. When that happened, the majority of them asked to hold off on their move into the center because the number of patients they were seeing dropped," he told the council.

Garlock said they will need commitments from 12 to 15 doctors to lease space to go forward with the project.

"As soon as we get that commitment, we will finish those offices," he said. That will take between three and six months to complete, Garlock estimat-ed.

Construction on the core and shell of the building, along with site work, should be done by July 4, Garlock said. Between July and September, work will continue on the inside of the building with about half of the space finished during that time.

The remainder of the work will be done once the commitments from physicians are received, he said.

The hospital and OhioHealth remain committed to the project, he said. "Unfortunately, many physicians are experiencing the same financial impact that hospitals and other businesses are feeling."

Delaware Mayor Windell Wheeler thanked Garlock for the update.

"It's unfortunate the economy has turned the way that it has, not just for the hospital but for everybody," he said.

cpreston@thisweeknews.com