A large model on a table, at the Dell Medical School Health Learning building, provides an idea of what the Brackenridge hospital tract could eventually look like. The cluster of white high rides had Juan Garza, Central Health's Vice President for Finance and Development, pretty excited.
"It’s probably a unique moment in the city's history that will remake all of downtown."
Architectural renderings of the mixed use development, provided by Central Health, envision a new city district. There could be multiple high rises for offices, hotels, stores, residential lofts as well as outdoor gathering spots.
"This will bring thousands of jobs to this part of the downtown area, the medical school and the hospital already bring about 15,000 souls to this one spot, and that’s going to double that,” said Garza.
According to Garza, Seton pays Central Health about $34-million a year to operate UMC Brackenridge where it sits now. Next spring, hospital operations are moving to the U.T. medical school complex.
Developers will own the new buildings that go up, after the old hospital complex comes down, but the land will not be sold. A new lease deal, according to Garza, will hopefully replace the lost rental revenue from Seton, and even exceed it. "Every dollar that Central Health gets form that campus will be used to provide health care,” said Garza.
Thursday, the search got underway to find a lead developer to transform the 14 acres of land; which is essentially the size of six city blocks. The center of the development, simply known right now as the plaza, just may be one of the most critical parts of the plan.
"The public market and the connective open space is really the heart of this redevelopment project,” Christie Garbe Central Health’s Chief Strategy Officer.
Unlike the exclusive high rises that continue to modify Austin's skyline – Central Health wants their development to be inclusive. A place to share ideas -- experiences and locally made products -- with healthy living being the dominate theme.
"We hope that this space will become one of the major attractions for our city,” said Garbe.
A group of potential development partners will be identified by late October.
Selection of the prime contractor may take place around spring of next year.