Mayo Clinic Eyes Possible Austin Expansion

Posted at: 05/06/2013 9:48 PM
Updated at: 05/06/2013 10:14 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- The Mayo Clinic's proposed Destination Medical Center project has many people focused on the future of Rochester these days, but it's clear that Rochester won't be the only city seeing some expansion in the coming years.

Even with DMC plans still up in the air, Mayo officials are already moving forward with expansion efforts in Austin that could be a sign of what's to come.

In January, Mayo Health System in Austin celebrated the grand opening of its new 86,500 square-foot, $28 million expansion project.

And now just a few months later, they're already setting the stage for further growth.

Mayo officials recently purchased three homes directly adjacent the clinic in Austin, in what they're calling a "strategic purchase.”

In a statement released Monday, Vice President of Operations Scot Ramsey said, "No formal decisions have been made yet for future plans for this property.”

But city officials said the area has already been rezoned as a business neighborhood district.

“That zoning classification allows for commercial type development,” said Craig Hoium, director of community development in Austin. “More office-type use or off-street parking.”

At a Committee of the Whole meeting Monday night, Austin city administrators heard from Mayo representatives about the DMC project and its potential impact to the Austin area.

Representatives said that while it was too early to offer specifics, they assured city leaders that Austin would not be without its advantages.

“If we have that economic development initiative that's creating jobs and growth and opportunity, the nucleus is in downtown Rochester, but we're going to see a ripple effect throughout Rochester and into the surrounding communities, including Austin,” said Karen Trewin, a DMC project manager.

Mayo representatives said more people working at the Mayo Clinic could move to Austin and in turn attract new businesses.

But again, they reminded city leaders that at this point it’s all still just hypothetical.

“The city’s been involved, planning's been involved, the county's been involved,” said Al Mannino, a community advocate for the DMC project. “And at this point what we're saying is this could happen, not what will happen for sure, but what might happen.”

City officials said Mayo has also engaged the city in discussions about building multiple new parking facilities but have yet to put forth any concrete plans.