After more than 130 years in Austin, a portion of the University Medical Center Brackenridge downtown will come down this month and be replaced by a 17-story office building. The demolition is part of UT Austin's plan to expand its health care district centered around the Dell Medical School.
The new office will provide more space for medical research, as well as house some of the school’s medical and academic departments. UT also plans to sublease some of the space to other health care partners outside the university system. Clinical care is not expected to take place at the facility.
UT spokesperson Gary Susswein says this redevelopment will create a hub where academics, medical professionals and officials from Central Health and Ascension Seton can come together to collaborate.
“It’s what we always envisioned when we were creating Dell Medical School in order to serve the health needs of the local population,” he said. “To have this building go up is a milestone. It’s a key part of that effort.”
The 2033 Higher Education Development Foundation, a local nonprofit set up to benefit UT Austin, is paying for the redevelopment of the 1.2-acre site along Red River Street. It signed a 99-year lease with Central Health, which owns the entire 14.3-acre property, and the revenue generated from that lease is expected to be more than $460 million. Officials say this will help pay for health care services in underserved areas in Travis County.
“It’s exciting to see activity on Central Health’s property because it means we’ll soon be generating even more lease revenue,” Guadalupe Zamora, M.D., a Central Health board chairperson, said in a press release. “We’re redeveloping this property with the sole purpose of funding our mission of caring for people with low income.”
The construction project also includes plans to improve public access to Waller Creek by straightening Red River through the redeveloped property.
Brackenridge closed in May 2017 when Ascension Seton moved across the street to the new Dell Seton Medical Center.
The redevelopment of the old Brackenridge property is expected to be completed by 2022.