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Central Health taps Baltimore-based firm for Brackenridge Hospital redevelopment

Thursday, November 2, 2017 by Syeda Hasan

Central Health has selected a firm to redevelop Brackenridge Hospital.

The Central Health Board of Managers announced it’s chosen Baltimore-based Wexford Science and Technology to revamp the hospital, which closed its doors for good in May after more than a century of service in Austin.

Brackenridge long served as a safety-net hospital for low-income patients, and Mike Geeslin, president and CEO of Central Health, thinks whatever goes up in its place should benefit the public.

“Ultimately, we need to generate revenue that will fund health care for the population that we serve,” Geeslin said. “And so I think the mix of things that we pull together will be to help us fulfill that mission.”

Just a short walk from the Capitol building, the campus spans six city blocks of prime real estate, but only two firms responded to a request for proposal to redevelop the site. Wexford beat out Philadelphia-based Brandywine Realty Trust. In its master plan for the Brackenridge site, Central Health emphasizes a need for new housing, office space, retail and hotels, along with health care facilities. Wexford has completed similar projects nationally.

Now, Wexford and Central Health begin negotiation over the project, but it could be a while before they finalize a plan for development and break ground.

“This is very early on in the process,” Geeslin said. “And there are many more steps that we’ll go through over the next several months in negotiating with Wexford, not only in terms of what the development looks like, but the economics, and how we meet the community needs.”

Wexford says it plans to create an “innovation district” on the site. Tom Osha, the firm’s senior vice president of innovation and economic development, says those typically center around a university and incorporate housing, business and retail into a large urban space.

“The majority of our projects are all urban-based, in proximity to the university, and really leverage the assets of an urban core,” Osha said.

Central Health says it will be about six months to a year before it begins demolition on the Brackenridge site. New construction is expected to start in two to three years.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Photo by Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT.

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