Here’s a construction-cam view from this morning showing progress on Baylor College of Medicine’s fancy new Clinic and Hospital on Old Spanish Trail, a stretch south of the main Medical Center campus — and, apparently, too big of a stretch for the financially strained institution. The Chronicle is reporting that BCM has decided to finish building the hospital exterior, but that it’s not gonna build out the building’s innards at all. For a while. Until it gets the money.
Or something changes. The medical school decided to build its own facility after breaking off an association with Methodist Hospital in 2004. A later bad hook-up, with St. Luke’s, ended in 2007. When BCM began serious conversations with Rice University about a merger last year, the new hospital was considered a major obstacle to a deal: Rice didn’t want it. If BCM becomes a part of Rice (which at this point appears quite likely), the hospital will have to be jettisoned somehow.
In an e-mail to faculty, [Baylor interim president William T.] Butler said the temporary suspension buys time to acquire additional capital through philanthropy, federal funds and other sources, gives the markets a chance to settle and provides an opportunity to consider project partners.
Sources said that by not building out the interior, it’s also possible the hospital shell would be more attractive to a buyer wanting to tailor the facility to its own desired specifications.
But in his e-mail to faculty, Butler dismissed such speculation: “Taking this pause will allow us to ultimately fulfill the plan to build the hospital,” he wrote. “The board has made it clear it is committed to this project.”
The 11-story hospital building is going up on a 35-acre site just west of the VA Hospital, at the intersection of OST and Cambridge. Baylor expects the exterior will be complete in about a year.
Butler said the suspension of construction likely will last at least several months. He also said if the economic situation improves, the college can reverse the decision and continue with the project as scheduled.
A new Baylor 6-story medical building, shown at the top of this site plan just north of the hospital, opened recently:
- Baylor decides to put hospital construction on hold [Houston Chronicle]
- Baylor Clinic and Hospital [BCM]
Images: Baylor College of Medicine