Construction crews are expected to start the months-long process of demolishing the former Texoma Medical Center complex next week, officials with TMC and parent company Universal Health Services said earlier this month.

The news comes nine years after the hospital left its original location on Martin Luther King Street in Denison and moved to its current location at the corner of U.S. Highway 75 and FM 691 and nearly one year after contracts were put in place for the demolition project.

“Demolition of the former Texoma Medical Center (TMC) building is scheduled to begin next week and is expected to conclude in January 2019,” UHS said in a brief statement late Wednesday. “There are no immediate development plans for the land at this time.”

Messages to UHS and TMC for additional details on the time frame for the demolition and logistics of the project were not immediately returned.

The original hospital complex was built in the mid 1960s and continued to serve the Denison community for more than 40 years. During the 1990s, the Morrison Medical Office building, which is also slated for demolition, was built. By late 2017, the letters on the side, identifying the former medical offices, appeared to have either fallen away or been removed.

In 2007, the Texoma hospital was acquired by UHS. As part of the sale agreement, the national medical provider was required to build a new hospital facility. The new and current campus were officially opened two years later in 2009, effectively bringing an end to medical service at the original hospital.

Denison Building Official Betty Floyd confirmed that a permit for the demolition had been filed with the city on Tuesday. The permit would give crews six months to start the demolition process and an additional six months following the start to complete the process. The permit does not include a valuation of the cost of the demolition project.

Regarding preparations for the demolitions, Floyd said asbestos abatements and other work have already been conducted prior to the permit application.

The current permit deals specifically with the demolition of the hospital building and Morrison building, Floyd said. An additional permit will be needed for the demolition of the existing parking lots, she said.

“They are also going to have to turn in an environmental drainage plan to show how water will flow once the parking lot has been removed,” she said, adding that landscaping for the site will be required.

The Morrison building

Following the closure of the hospital, Denison economic development officials took steps to find a new user for the former complex. While the hospital itself was outdated and had other issues, Denison Development President Tony Kaai said he saw opportunities in the Morrison building.

“We advised the REIT years ago that the old hospital needed to be demolished, but the MOB (Morrison Office Building) had value to the community,” Kaai said in a statement to the Herald Democrat. “Over the years, we had several prospects interested in the MOB and we worked the deals for months not only investing our time but also offering incentives to the businesses to help facilitate a deal. In the end, none of those deals were accepted by the REIT.”

Kaai said he first reached out to UHS through its Real Estate Investment Trust two years before operations halted at the original site. These efforts included a marketing campaign in 2009 that involved reaching out to 2,000 target industries.

Unfortunately, these efforts came during the height of the 2008-2009 recession and marketing efforts were unsuccessful.

Beyond the economic climate at the time, Kaai said there were several other factors that hindered development. Among them was a number of deed restrictions that would limit the uses that could take place at the complex.

“Those restrictions basically stated that a buyer could not redevelop the property and use it for any purpose that was related to medical services,” Kaai said.

Kaai said UHS did not list the property with a national real estate firm in recent years, and efforts by the DDA to get a purchase price for the building were unsuccessful.

“Once the decision was made to demolish the entire campus, we contacted REIT again with an attempt to save the MOB,” Kaai said. “As late as a couple of weeks our most recent offer was declined. The city, DDA and numerous community leaders have invested a lot of time and resources in working with the REIT to redevelop the Morrison Office Building and unfortunately the end result will be the demolition of the entire site.”

Future of site

Despite UHS announcing no immediate plans for the site, city officials said there are opportunities for redevelopment in the area. During a city council meeting Tuesday night, the council approved a timetable for the redevelopment of a set of doctor’s offices adjacent to the former hospital complex into a new 16-unit, age-restricted apartment complex.

During previous meetings, developer Chip Piazza said there had been questions posed by banks and other financial institutions who were interested in the project regarding the future of the hospital. With the upcoming demolition, Piazza said these groups finally had the answers they needed to move forward.

In 2017, Planning and Zoning Manager Steven Doss said the site was zoned for office uses. This zoning would also open it for other forms of development including some residential.

“The City of Denison looks forward to working with potential developers on the reuse of the former hospital campus,” City Manager Jud Rex said in an email statement Thursday. “There are many different opportunities for the redevelopment of this site. The property owner, UHS, will be an integral part of the site redeveloping and the City looks forward to working with UHS.”