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MTSU to purchase historic MTMC site

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Middle Tennessee Medical Center opened in 1927 as Rutherford Hospital. The historic building was demolished last year to make the plot more attractive to buyers.

MTSU’s footprint will extend into downtown Murfreesboro with the university’s planned acquision of  former site of Middle Tennessee Medical Center.

The university announced the plan at a press conference Friday that it will purchase site near downtown Murfreesboro.

MTSU will pay $11.1 million for the 17.4-acre site, which includes:

• The 115,000-square-foot Bell Street Building;

• A 143,000-square-foot parking garage with 407 parking spaces;

• Surface parking with 188 spaces;

• A large green-space area that was the site of the old main hospital building (surrounded by East Bell Street; North Highland Avenue; East Lytle Street; and North University Street.)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and Gordon Ferguson, president and CEO of Middle Tennessee Medical Center, marked the pending change of ownership in a ceremony at the Bell Street Building, attended by administrators from both institutions and community leaders.

“For nearly 85 years, our two campuses anchored the east side of Murfreesboro and served for much of that time as two of the largest employers in our community,” McPhee said. “But we shared much more than proximity and size – our two organizations also share many common values.

“Today’s ceremony marks the next step in that relationship and underscores the importance we place on serving the needs of our students and the community.”

MTMC has been looking for a buyer for its old hospital site since its move into a $267 million state-of-the-art medical campus in October 2010.

Its 70-acre site on Medical Center Parkway is more than four times larger than its old location, which was where the hospital was established in 1927.

“We continued a legacy of innovation and advancement at our Bell Street location, serving the community with outstanding medical care,” Ferguson said. “With the sale of this land, we pass along that legacy to our partner MTSU as they now grow and create new opportunities for our community.”

McPhee said the university will use the Bell Street Building for academic purposes.

However, he said final decisions on which units and operations will occupy the space have yet to be determined.

“Once we acquire the property, we will determine the best and most appropriate use for the facility,” McPhee said. “It will be used for academic purposes and, while we are considering several options, we have yet to make a final decision on what would be best at that location.”

University spokesman Andrew Oppmann said the Bell Street Building will require some renovations to change its usage from medical to academic.

“We will need to determine what work needs to be done and how long that work will take – all of which will factor into our decisions on how the facility will be used,” he said.

Oppmann said the university currently has no plans for the old hospital lot and that area will remain open green space for the foreseeable future.

McPhee said the university will be “good stewards of this facility and good neighbors to our community and use it to better serve our students and the people of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.”

“We are extremely proud to have worked with Gordon and his staff, Lee (Moss, chairman of the MTMC Board of Directors) and the hospital board and the entire Saint Thomas Health Services family to make this a reality,” McPhee said.

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