Baylor Scott & White plans to build a hospital in Buda

After much speculation and nearly two years of negotiation, a hospital will soon be built in Buda.

By unanimous approval, Buda city leaders Tuesday approved a Buda Economic Development Corporation (EDC) development agreement paving the way for Baylor Scott & White (BS&W) to build a  full-service hospital in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ).

According to the agreement, Baylor Scott and White intends to make an investment of at least $35 million in land, buildings, equipment, inventory and other improvements necessary for a full medical facility. The hospital, which will be at least 70,000 square-feet, will also include a full-service emergency department, medical office space, operating rooms, imaging and there facilities. According to the agreement, the facility is expected to be open and operational by December 31, 2019.

According to a statement from BS&W officials, the entity is working with Buda to bring the system’s first full-service hospital to Hays County.

The facility is to be located on a 19-acre plot of land located on FM 2001 behind the Emergency Service District No. 8 station No. 2, which is within the Sunfield Municipal Utility District (MUD).

In January 2017, the Buda City Council approved an amendment to the Sunfield MUD consent agreement to allow for zoning for a medical facility.

Ann Miller, Buda EDC executive director, said the agreement was the culmination of almost two years of work.

Miller said the project’s origins began when the EDC received a phone call in March 2016 from a firm representing BS&W.

The representative told Miller they was interest in the Buda area and scheduled a meeting. After several meetings and phone calls, Baylor Scott & White officials revealed what their plan was.

That kick started a series of steps for the EDC, which worked to accommodate for the proposal. That included amending the Sunfield MUD agreement, along with negotiating with Sunfield on the price of the property.

However, Miller said because BS&W is a non-profit, the EDC was restricted on what it could do as far as its agreement.

The focus centered on infrastructure related projects, with the city’s Incentive Task Force determining the value of the project.

Miller said there was a lengthy waiting process as BS&W determined what it needed and the costs associated with that.

Miller said the EDC, with the guidance of the city’s Incentive Task Force and city council, successfully negotiated incentives for the project’s key infrastructure costs.

“Not only will the city of Buda be gaining a much needed community asset and partner tonight but we will be starting a new era of growth and development in our community as this project and its employees could spur additional spin-off development,” Miller said.

According to the agreement, public infrastructure related costs for the facility are estimated to be $517,700; Buda EDC will reimburse BS&W 375,000 for those infrastructure costs.

Funds from the reimbursement is expected to pay for a turn lane, sidewalks, water and wastewater connections. Other costs covered by the EDC’s reimbursement include driveway access to the facility, permitting, tap and impact fees.

On the opposite side, BS&W is obligated to acquire the land, construct the facility and make necessary capital investments.

Per the agreement, BS&W will be required to create 150 jobs that will be staggered over the course of four years. The agreement calls for creation of the jobs from 2020-2024.

The average wage for the 150 jobs is to be no less than $30 per hour, according to the agreement.

Buda Mayor George Haehn said it was “very gratifying” to see BS&W make its way to Buda. Haehn also lauded the efforts of Miller and the EDC team for the agreement.

“Without her hard work, none of this would ever be possible,” Haehn said. “Her and her team…I’m just excited. It’s an amazing, exciting time to be here in Buda.”

With the facility comes a possible influx of business growth to the area.

Miller said ideally Buda wants businesses that not only have an impact, but “spin-off impact,” which could lead to indirect jobs and put more money into the economy.

Miller said with the project, Buda could soon be the “health capital of Hays County.”

“I would expect a lot of development to occur, with not only Baylor Scott & White, but potentially their competitors in Buda, because of this project,” Miller said.

How Buda looks at its future housing needs could also be impacted by the facility as well.

Haehn said he expects to see a desire for executive level housing, as well as housing for the nurses, janitors and others who will work at the facility.

“It could possibly impact zoning decisions,” Haehn said. “Let’s find a way to diversity housing. It may put an impetus behind that. Have developers come in and put in a diversity of housing.”

The facility could also further push the city’s need to improve its infrastructure, primarily roads.

Haehn said with growth of business and population, the need for interconnectivity could become a focus.

“I don’t see a doubt in my mind that Austin is going to want to connect with Buda. There are going to be folks from south Austin that want to come to Baylor Scott & White,” Haehn said.

For Haehn, the facility also will test the city’s ability to balance its small town charm with a growing area.

“If we can nurture that (small town feel) and keep it going, it won’t matter if we have 100,000 people stacked 10 miles high, it will still be Buda,” Haehn said. “We never want to lose that.”

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