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Base hospital may be torn down after new clinic is built

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

Although the plans are not concrete yet, the Base Hospital could be torn down in about five years.

photo by Airman Jose Climaco

Thanks to plans for a new clinic to be built at MacDill, base planners say it is likely the hospital on Bayshore Boulevard will be demolished.

The land the hospital currently occupies could be used to support base residents and families, possibly with sports fields, picnic grounds and the like, after the new clinic is constructed.

Nothing is set in stone at this point, but the question of what to do with the hospital and other buildings is on the mind of base planners, who say demolition in about five years is the most likely fate.

Michael Cooley, chief of plans for the 6th Civil Engineer Squadron, said there remains much to consider but the most likely path is knocking the building down and using the land to provide recreation for the base population.

"That's what we're thinking right now," said. Mr. Cooley, who would be in charge of coming up with use plans for the land. "But that could change."

Scott Davis, who heads up base construction for the 6th CES agrees. Because of the age of the building, its layout and other complications that would make it difficult and expensive to transform into office space, demolition may be the only option.

"It's at least five years out and who knows, maybe someone will want to use it for something else but our best guess is it will be converted to family and community use," said Mr. Davis.

The problem with keeping the building and converting it for another use is the extensive remodeling it would need. The layout of rooms would require a lot of walls to be removed and due to past upgrades and retrofitting there are issues that would complicate the process, said Mr. Davis. An example is when a new sprinkler system was installed in the building the old system was left in place and remains full of flowing water. Other changes and additions over the years present many hurdles to remodeling, and hurdles amount to money, said Mr. Davis.

With Air Force requirements currently restricting remodeling costs to no more than 80 percent of what it would cost to replace a building, and that number likely to drop to 70 percent soon, it would not be financially feasible to justify keeping the building, he said.

"It (the hospital) would have to be completely gutted and that most likely would be cost prohibitive," said Mr. Davis.

But a lot will depend on the needs of MacDill four or five years from now. The base commander's vision at that time, a change of mission or possible new tenants all could influence the decision, Mr. Davis notes.

While it is possible the hospital land could be used for new housing, Mr. Davis said that isn't likely. MacDill is allowed a certain number of housing units and current plans already provide for the maximum number on land already set aside for housing.

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