Construction of teaching hospital will cause realignment of Red River Street

Amanda Voeller

Portions of Red River Street will close between March and October 2014 for street realignment, which will allow Seton Healthcare Family to build a teaching hospital on an enlarged tract of land, meant to accompany the future Dell Medical Center.

Because the University needs more room than it currently has for the medical district, which is projected to be more than 1 million square feet with the addition of the teaching hospital, the city agreed in August to reroute Red River Street, city spokesperson Clark Patterson said.

The curved portion of Red River Street near 15th Street will be vacated by the city in exchange for University land east of the street, Patterson said. This will extend Red River Street to East 15th Street.

At a UT System Board of Regents meeting in May, architecture professor Lawrence Speck said the realignment would allow for a more practical building structure.

“[Red River Street] creates strangely shaped parcels of land, where the grid [that used to be in place] made for much more sensible parcels,” Speck said.

The road extension, utilities, landscaping and other preparations are projected to cost $16.5 million, according to Dell Medical School preliminary documents.

The medical school, scheduled to begin construction in April 2014, will be built on land that is currently Centennial Park, said Rhonda Weldon, director of communications. Part of this land is also a Frank Erwin Center parking lot and another part is University property east of Waller Creek.

Because the medical school’s construction will take away parking from the Erwin Center, there will be a parking lot in the medical campus area to make up for this,
Weldon said.

The University is leasing the land to Central Health, a governmental entity that maintains health care facilities in Central Texas, which will in turn sublease to Seton, said Florence Mayne, executive director of real estate for the UT System. Because the land is zoned for various uses, including multi-family, general commercial services and general office uses, the UT System is requesting that the city change the zoning to public.

“[The University] just came in and said, rather than have all this various zoning, which also gives you various development standards, we’ll just change it all to [Category P],” Paterson said. “We’ll be under one big umbrella.”

Weldon said the University is working to ensure construction will not affect Waller Creek, which runs through Centennial Park.

“The university plans to improve Waller Creek … sure up banks, manage health of vegetation and water,” Weldon said. “We see Waller Creek as a natural amenity, an asset to continuing the pedestrian experience we already have on campus.”