April 10, 2014

What happens to a neighborhood when a new hospital is built?

Daily Briefing

City officials hope the new Parkland Hospital being constructed just outside of Dallas' commercial hub will attract new residents, retail, and commercial ventures that will serve the community for decades to come, the New York Times' Maxine Levy reports.

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The 2.5 million square-foot campus will feature a 17-story main building with 862-patient rooms. The building's identical, 300-square-foot private rooms each have their own thermostat, family area, and energy-saving daylight harvesting system. Also, custom-built elevators can transport patients from two heated helipads on the hospital's roof to the trauma unit at street level in just 32 seconds.

The previous Parkland Memorial Hospital, built in 1954, had grown out-of-date and congested, so Dallas County in November 2008 approved a $747 million bond issue to build the Parkland complex. Once it's completed in late August, local officials are hopeful the hospital will become a focal point for the city's rapidly growing population.

"You can't spend $1.3 billion and not have an impact on the local real estate market," says Dallas County commissioner John Wiley Price.

Retail, commercial ventures 'follow the rooftops'

In 2004, the 60-plus acres of land surrounding the hospital was "a wasteland," says Lou Saksen, senior vice president for new construction at the Parkland Health and Hospital System. But Former Parkland CEO Ron Anderson says that the system has since bought those surrounding areas, "so in the future we won't be landlocked." The hospital also has planned a light rail line that will stop right in front of the facility.

Developers say the ease of transportation may draw health care providers and hospital staff. "There are a growing number of health practitioners who will be able to live in the area," says Joseph Cahoon, director of the Folsom Institute for Real Estate at Southern Methodist University, adding, "It's that live, work, play lifestyle that is now at arm's distance from the hospital."

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Jorge Ramirez—president of Mockingbird Venture Partners, which owns and develops residential and commercial property in the hospital's vicinity—says building nine new multifamily buildings would add about 4,000 apartments to the area. He told the Times that he hoped retail and commercial ventures would come after the residential development, noting that they typically "follow the rooftops."

Can Parkland transform suburban Dallas?

Currently, the impact Parkland will have on the surrounding neighborhoods is unknown. The area has several family and local restaurants, bodegas, auto-related shops, and other small businesses, but it lacks a customer base affluent enough to anchor a major retailer, says Cahoon.

However, the addition of a sizeable Kroger supermarket built two years ago could be a sign of more to come. "When you see national retailers like Kroger coming in, that is indicative of a demographic shift," Cahoon says. "It is a big stake in the ground."

Parkland CEO Fred Cerise compared the area's real estate prospects to the 15-block region surrounding the replacement Charity Hospital in New Orleans. Before, "It was a very depressed area with a lot of vacant property," he said, adding, "Now you see the development of apartment complexes, retail and stuff in that area; you see the beginning of that and it's a transformative project in that part of town" (Levy, New York Times, 4/8).

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