The old MTMC building is completely torn down with only rubble where the 80-year-old building once stood. This was the last piece standing a few weeks ago. Photo by D. Gardonia
Just as new construction modifies the landscape of a community, so does the deconstruction of long-standing structures.
Such is the case with the 300 block of North Highland Avenue in downtown Murfreesboro, as the demolition of the original Middle Tennessee Medical Center nears completion. Residents along Lytle Street can once again see the Bell Street building and those along North Highland have a view of North University Street.
“The demolition of the main hospital buildings on the old MTMC campus on Highland Avenue is essentially complete,” MTMC president and CEO Gordon B. Ferguson said. “The only structure left standing on the main hospital block is the old carpenter shop, which is being used as a staging area by the demolition company.”
DemoPlus, the demolition company, expects to be finished with property by April 1 with debris removal, grading of the property and grass planted across the entire site as the final components of the demolition.
The process has included deconstructing about 383,000 square feet of space on the 18.7 acre campus over the past year, Gordon continued. As for the structures that still remain, they include the Bell Street Building, a parking garage and the building where the Wellness Center was previously housed.
The Wellness Center has since moved to the Seton Medical Office Building on Medical Center Parkway. Additionally, the Bell Street Building now houses the new Saint Louise Clinic and the Dispensary of Hope.
The remaining land and the Bell Street Building are still for sale.
“There is great potential for the land because the existing structures have been removed,” Gordon explained.
“There would have been a tremendous cost for someone to come in and renovate the existing structures if they would have remained. Now, we believe the property is much for attractive and will be even more so as the property is completely open and ready to go. We believe the location between downtown and MTSU and being on Highland Avenue makes it a marketable property.”
He added, the Bell Street Building also has great potential as a newer property built in 1999 with 113,000 square feet of space with meeting space, offices and the potential to be expanded.
“While there is nothing definitive to report, we have had more interest expressed about this property now that the deconstruction process is nearing its final stage,” Gordon said, adding that anyone interested in the property or Bell Street Building should contact Axson West at Southeast Venture.
“Our vision is that the land and its future use will be something that is compatible with the surrounding community and neighborhoods and a part of the city.”
Everyone seems to have an opinion about what use best suits the property, including local Realtor Bill Jakes, who recently launched a campaign to move Linebaugh Library to the old campus. Other residents have suggested MTSU take over the building or that the City of Murfreesboro should turn the space into a park.
But the property comes with a hefty price tag.
Other news outlets have estimated the property to be worth between $5 million and $20 million, depending on real estate market conditions.
The old medical center has been vacant since late-2010, when the new hospital opened its doors on Medical Center Parkway. Hospital administrators decided to tear down MTMC’s original buildings on North Highland Avenue because the entire campus proved difficult to sell; it would be more marketable as a piece of land.