$899.4 million construction program will boost economy
SAN ANTONIO, Tex — With golden shovels in hand, University Health System officials and members of the Bexar County Commissioners Court turned the first bit of dirt in the parking lot of University Health Center Downtown, officially breaking ground for a six-story, state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment center on the west side of downtown San Antonio. The $121 million project, set to be completed in late 2012, is part of one of the largest construction programs in Bexar County history.
The new clinical services building will literally go up before the eyes of the community, given its prominent location along the access road of Interstate 10 at Martin Street. It is a key part of University Health System’s $899.4 million Target 2012: Capital Improvement Program, which also includes a new 10-story, one million square-foot tower at University Hospital.
The new diagnostic and treatment building at University Health Center – Downtown, on the site of the historic Robert B. Green Memorial Hospital, will expand services for patients, and offer access to care that is often only found in hospitals. “Our goal is to provide the highest quality care in the most appropriate setting,” said University Health System President/CEO George B. Hernández, Jr. “This place will be about offering the best care to everyone – those with excellent health coverage, as well as people without access to health coverage.”
The Capital Improvement Program is the product of an extensive, multi-year planning process that involved dozens of University Health System staff members and physicians working with a team of consultants. “I am extremely proud of and thankful to everyone involved in the hard work that brought us to this milestone, but I would especially like to recognize the Bexar County Commissioners Court and our Board of Managers,” Hernández added. “Without their leadership and courage, we would not be standing here today embarking on this much-needed expansion and renovation initiative.”
University Health System Board of Managers Chair Dr. Roberto L. Jimenez echoed Hernández’s praise. “We are so fortunate to live in a community, with strong leadership, dedicated to assuring access to high quality healthcare for all. University Health System has a unique mission to provide all levels of care, from preventive health screenings to the most complex surgical procedures,” he said. “And through our partnership with the UT Health Science Center, we are committed to training the next generation of healthcare providers and developing new and better ways to provide care and improve patient outcomes through clinical research. These new facilities will enable your health system to fulfill its mission and make a positive impact on the lives of countless individuals and families for many years to come.”
Certificates of obligation are funding about 58 percent of the total $899.4 million building program. Twenty-nine percent comes from a reduction in the maintenance and operations tax rate that is being transferred to the interest & sinking fund, and about 13 percent of the project is being funded with $120 million in University Health System capital reserves. The combination of market timing and the availability of Build America Bonds, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, resulted in interest savings of more than $200 million over the life of the debt.
Given the downturn in the economy, market conditions to purchase construction-related goods and services are also very favorable and there has been a great deal of interest on the project. “They say timing is everything,” said Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff. “And that has certainly been the case with this project. We not only have the best national firms working to create facilities that will be efficient, state-of-the-art and the pride of Bexar County, this project also offers local businesses and subcontractors a tremendous opportunity to earn money and gain valuable experience. This is exactly what our community needs today and for the future.”