NORMAL — OSF HealthCare marked its planned expansion into north Normal by praying, delivering brief remarks and turning spades filled with dirt on Friday afternoon.

A groundbreaking ceremony for OSF's $5 million medical office building took place at 1765 Bradford Lane with about 70 representatives of OSF, the town of Normal, building owner Cullinan Properties Ltd., and the McLean County Chamber of Commerce attending.

OSF representatives noted that work already had begun.

"The site utilities are nearly 100 percent complete, the foundation is nearly complete and next Monday we'll begin work on underground utilities within the building," Cullinan Senior Project Manager Kyle Essex told The Pantagraph after the ceremony. Cullinan, which will own the building and lease it to OSF, plans to have the building enclosed Dec. 15 and complete in mid-June, Essex said.

"We plan to open the building in July," said Tracy Pogue, OSF vice president of ambulatory integration and development.

The goal of the 13,125-square-foot building is to serve an area that is medically underserved, Pogue said.

Advocate BroMenn Medical Center is 3 miles to the south. The closest OSF facility is OSF HealthCare Center for Health at Fort Jesse, which is 4 miles to the southeast.

"We looked at our patient demographics and many patients come to OSF facilities from this area," said Dr. Lamont Tyler, OSF regional director for specialty physician practices. OSF hopes to serve those patients closer to their homes while attracting new patients, said Tyler and Dr. Richard Ginnetti, OSF regional director for primary care physician practices.

"We're trying to improve access for patients," Ginnetti said.

The building, in Constitution Trail Centre northeast of Main Street and Raab Road, will include primary care provided by four patient care teams, with each consisting of a physician, nurse, advance-practice nurse and medical office assistant. A behavioral health specialist also will see patients there, Ginnetti said.

The building will include 24 patient exam rooms, a PromptCare clinic, patient case management space, a conference room, X-ray, lab and waiting room.

After the building is fully operational, about 30 full-time employees will work there, Ginnetti said. Some will relocate from other OSF facilities; some will be new hires, he said.

"We need state-of-the-art facilities like this to recruit (medical) providers," Ginnetti said.

OSF PromptCare at 1701 E. College Ave., Bloomington, will move to Bradford Lane, making room in the former PromptCare space for expanded podiatry and orthopedics, Tyler said.

"Accessibility to health care is very important to the success of our town," said Normal City Council member Jeff Fritzen.

Not only will the facility meet health care needs in north Normal but it also will continue the area's development, which includes the opening last July of the Radisson Hotel and the planned opening early next year of Sky Zone, City Manager Mark Peterson said.

Fritzen noted that OSF's groundbreaking came during the same week when OSF confirmed that it wants to build a $25 million, 51,000-square-foot medical office building on the OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center campus, 2200 E. Washington St., Bloomington.

"We're thankful for the commitment of OSF to our community," Fritzen said.

Follow Paul Swiech on Twitter: @pg_swiech