Central Health wants no density limit for Brackenridge redevelopment

Central Health will provide updates Thursday on future plans for University Medical Center Brackenridge.

Central Health will provide updates Thursday on future plans for University Medical Center Brackenridge.

As it moves forward with a plan to redevelop the University Medical Center Brackenridge campus into a mixed-use district, Central Health wants Austin City Council to approve a special zoning "overlay" that would allow for unlimited development density.

Central Health officials outlined the plan Thursday during a community event at the Travis County health district's office on East Cesar Chavez Street in Austin.

Brackenridge Rendering Central Health hopes to see new mixed-use development with a medical research and service focus on the University Medical Center Brackenridge campus in downtown Austin.[/caption]

UMCB, which opened in 1970, will close in May to be replaced by the new Dell Seton Medical Center at The University of Texas.

Central Health wants to remake the 14.3-acre UMCB campus into a mixed-use district that would include commercial and residential development with a focus on health care service and research.

A master plan calls for about 3.7 million square feet of new construction space with the potential for buildings between 35 and 40 stories tall.

Central Health will lease the Brackenridge campus to a master developer but will keep ownership of the property. Twelve developers responded to a request for qualifications, or RFQ, issued by Central Health this past fall.

Securing a partnership with a developer is key to the plan, said Christe Garbe, Central Health's vice president and chief strategy officer. Doing so will allow Central Health to focus on its mission of delivering care to uninsured and underinsured Travis County residents, she added.

"We are not developers, and we do not intend to be developers," Garbe said.

The next step in the process will be to finalize the UMCB campus' future zoning status, said Nikelle Meade, a partner with Husch Blackwell, a legal advisory firm consulting Central Health on the development.

Right now, the campus is zoned for public use by the city of Austin. But Meade said Central Health would like Austin City Council to approve a special zoning variance for the site that would allow a mix of zoning classifications and place no restrictions on density, aside from necessary regulatory setbacks and view corridors.

Meade said a proposal is before Austin's Planning Commission and a public hearing will likely be held before the end of February.

The proposal could be brought before the full City Council in March or April, she said.

Central Health hopes the redeveloped campus will play a major role in spurring the growth of downtown Austin's so-called Innovation Zone near UMCB and The University of Texas Dell Medical School.

The project's master plan configures the UMCB campus to provide better access to the property and create easier travel into East Austin, said Juan Garza, Central Health's vice president of finance and development.

Garza said a redeveloped UMCB campus could eventually produce an estimated "$1 billion of value" for Central Health.

One component Central Health considers key to the new development is a central plaza and public market space, which would sit adjacent to an overlook offering views of nearby Waterloo Park. But the exact uses of the property will not be determined until a master developer is picked.

Garza said he expects a recommendation for a master developer will be put before Central Health's board of managers this fall.

"We're hoping that there will enough here that all segments of the population will be served well," he said. "We hope that we can develop this part of town in a way that we can all enjoy it and partake of it."



Photo of a snowy residential street
'Bad data is worse than no data': Austin health officials unsure how storm affected coronavirus spread

Weekly testing and hospitalization averages will not be updated by Austin Public Health until Feb. 27.

If approved, the bill would also establish goals for emissions reductions by 2030, 2040 and 2050. (Courtesy James Talarico)
After Winter Storm Uri, Rep. James Talarico files climate action plan in Texas House

The Texas Climate Action Act would require the development of a climate action plan to help alleviate future climate-related disasters and establish goals for reducing emissions for 2030, 2040 and 2050.

The 3.9-mile stretch of Hwy. 290 through the Y at Oak Hill was ranked the 43rd worst stretch of road in the state by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. The report was issued in December, but used data from before the pandemic in 2019. (Courtesy Falcon Sky Photography)
$674 million Oak Hill Parkway project set to begin in South Austin, but opponents are not giving up the fight

TxDOT says the highway widening is long overdue for a stretch of road that reached capacity in the 1990s, but some residents, environmental groups and politicians say the project is too big, too expensive and too harmful to the environment.

A tree with fallen branches has fallen on a car in North Austin in the midst of Winter Storm Uri.
Does your emergency repair need a city permit? Here is how you can find out

The city of Austin has directed additional funds into programs to help some homeowners with repairs following February's winter storm.

Sunset Valley Police Chief Lenn Carter led emergency efforts in the city during and after the Feb. 15 winter storm. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Sunset Valley approves emergency declaration, reviews city operations during Austin-area outages

The city provided a review of operations during last week's winter storm and is seeking feedback on resident experiences.

Photo of Judge Brown in a mask and orange vest with megaphone
Travis County and 3 Central Texas neighbors to pilot mass vaccination site

Some 3,000 people will be vaccinated at a drive-thru event at the Circuit of The Americas this weekend.

Ally Medical Emergency Room opened on Menchaca Road this winter. (Courtesy Ally Medical Emergency Room)
Con Madre Kitchen opens, new local emergency room and more Southwest Austin business news

A new restaurant and emergency room opened, and a Dripping Springs fundraiser was rescheduled for early March.

The Rastegar project will total 530,000 square feet of industrial space. (Rendering courtesy Rastegar Property Co.)
50-acre industrial project coming to Southeast Austin along SH 130

The Rastegar Property Co. project will total 530,000 square feet of industrial space.

Austin Water has lifted its boil-water notice for the city of Austin. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Water lifts boil-water notice for all customers

Water quality tests have shown that city water is now safe to drink, and Austin Water continues to repair water mains and leaks.

Photo of school site from the air
Construction of Cypress Springs Elementary is over halfway done

Dripping Springs ISD's fifth elementary school is set to be substantially complete this summer.

Boil-water notices are still in place for some Austin residents. (Courtesy Pexels)
Austin dealing with ‘tens of thousands’ of water main breaks, officials say

Austin's water director said water main breaks during the winter storm were the likely culprit behind the draining of the city's reserves.