Irwin Center demolition marks the latest change in an ever-changing healthcare district

Tuesday, May 9, 2023 Chad Swiatecki

Demolition of the Frank Erwin Center Arena on the University of Texas campus will begin next month after receiving approval from UT leaders last week to move ahead with the demolition of the $25 million longtime home of both colleges’ basketball teams. It’s a schedule.

A vote by the UT Board also marks the demise of the adjacent Denton Cooley Pavilion basketball training facility. When demolition is complete next fall, the facility will be available for further expansion of Dell Medical School, which is currently centered around the Dell Seton Medical Center, which opened in 2017.

There are no clear plans for how the School of Medicine and the surrounding Healthcare Innovation District will use the site of the former Irwin Center, but the 2013 master plan calls for academic and research buildings, a parking lot, and more. , it is proposed to place housing.

The 46-year-old arena ended last spring with the opening of the nearby Moody Center Arena. This demolition serves as the latest change in a portion of downtown that is in transition both in terms of redevelopment efforts and medical orientation. School will take years to come.

Dell Seaton Teaching Hospital is currently a complex between Central Health, a public hospital district in Travis County, and Ascension Texas, a private partner that manages a hospital established to educate and provide medical care to medical school students. is at the center of a long-running legal battle. Health care for vulnerable people in the community.

The two groups filed lawsuits against each other in January over how they handled financing and logistics related to the public health services portion of the agreement. Central Health is seeking control of the hospital as a result of a legal battle. The latest developments on the matter came last week when Ascension Texas sent a notice to Central Health about a “governance and funding impasse.”

In a slightly related matter, last month the Travis County Commissioner’s Court voted to proceed with a Central Health audit of over $800,000. At issue is how Central Health used voter-approved $35 million a year bonds to fund public health efforts in medical schools.

Only 4% of that money was used to provide care, with the rest being used for “funding, admissions, the dean’s office, administration, non-clinical research, and undergraduate medical education,” according to subpoena data disclosed last year. was spent on

Whatever the future holds for medical schools, local business leaders have high hopes for the economic impact of a greater effort to attract and grow healthcare companies in Austin. From 2015 to 2021, the medical school had already attracted $96.5 million in outside funding and investment, according to a study released last year by UT’s IC2 Institute. The data includes 143 invention disclosures for patent application purposes, including 77 provisional and 12 completed patents.

Business development work led by Capital City Innovation and other groups in the health care district was expected to generate an economic impact of $293 million, according to a 2021 analysis by the Downtown Austin Alliance. This number represents a 50% increase in impact in areas not focused on healthcare.

The transformation of properties around the medical school is also well underway, with a 17-story tower to be built on the site of the former Brackenridge Hospital in 2021, and a larger lot approved by the City Council for planned unit development. . A former HealthSouth property nearby is slated for redevelopment by Aspen Heights Partners, and the city council last year gave the OK to a plan calling for more than 200 units of affordable housing among other community interests. rice field.

Photos available through a Creative Commons license.

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