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Public gets preview of mixed-use plan for Brackenridge Campus

The public was offered a preview Monday of the latest plans for the redevelopment of the Central Health Brackenridge Campus.

For more than a year, Central Health, Travis County’s health care district, has been soliciting feedback from residents as to how the campus should be repurposed after University Medical Center Brackenridge-the county’s public teaching hospital-closes in 2017. The Seton Healthcare Family is building a new state-of-the-art teaching hospital, Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas, to replace Brackenridge.

Redevelopment plans for the 14-acre campus, which comprises most of six city blocks at the northeast corner of downtown Austin, include opportunities for commercial, office, retail, residential and hotel space, a realigned street grid making the campus more accessible, a public market and green space.

Central Health President and CEO Patricia A. Young Brown said the redevelopment plans provide a unique opportunity to give back to the community, which has supported numerous public health care initiatives in recent years.

“In 2012 the residents of Travis County voted to continue a legacy of caring by approving Proposition 1-providing support for the Dell Medical School and other innovative health care activities,” she said. “Now, Central Health is working to utilize this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to develop a vital community asset and transform health care delivery.

“We have and continue to undertake a robust community input process to help us gather information and provide aspiration for redeveloping the Brackenridge Campus. Through this process we have learned the community supports a mixed-use approach to the development of the property. This will maximize its value, so that we can, in turn, invest that value back into the community in the form of improved health care.”

Redevelopment plans evolved as the community weighed in, said Juan Garza, Central Health Vice President of Finance and Development.

“The very first thing we heard was ‘find some way to make this land more penetrable,'” Garza said. “So we came up with the idea of reintroducing the street grid so that it is more accessible.”

Open house visitors at St. David’s Episcopal Church viewed a mock-up of the proposed repurposed campus and large placards with information about guiding principles for redevelopment, such as environmental sustainability, green building and being community oriented.

“I’m impressed with the input from the community and the apparent responsiveness that Central Health has to that input,” said Regina Rogoff, CEO at People’s Community Clinic.

Jeffrey Travillion Sr., who works with the city of Austin and is the state NAACP communications chairman, said he supports a mixed-use approach because it can attract different elements which don’t usually work together in that area of Austin.

“I think it’s important we use these strategies to bring everybody to the table,” Travillion said.