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Strong medicine

University submits proposal for re-use of Navy Supply Corps School as health sciences center

In its formal application for re-use of the Navy Supply Corps School property in Athens, the University of Georgia on Jan. 17 proposed to create a health sciences campus.

The proposed Health Sciences Center initially will build on existing assets such as UGA health-related programs, the clinical strengths of local hospitals and clinics in the Prince Avenue medical district and the programs of other institutional partners, including Athens Technical College and the Medical College of Georgia.

“Building on these existing assets, new medical school programs will be developed jointly by UGA and MCG as an expansion of MCG’s accredited curriculum, which could over time support the development of other facilities to meet the expanding need for training physicians in Georgia,” the proposal states.

“As the state’s flagship university, UGA recognizes that it must bring its resources to bear on the serious problems Georgia faces in sustaining an adequate supply of physicians and other health care professionals,” President Michael F. Adams wrote in the introductory letter to the proposal.

The planned health sciences campus would “more than replace the number of jobs lost from the departure of the NSCS at approximately double the NSCS payroll,” says the submission. “In doing so, it will be a significant economic driver for the Athens/Northeast Georgia area, becoming the 16th-largest employer in Athens (the NSCS is the 39th-largest). By 2015, it is expected to generate a minimum of $37 million in additional wages paid statewide, with $17 million in additional wages expected in Clarke County.”

It continues, “The initial economic activity generated by facilities development, increased enrollment, and expanded need for goods and services is projected to produce an additional $1.4 million per year in revenue to the Athens-Clarke County government, a figure that would rise substantially over time as the project develops. It is anticipated that the new Health Science Center’s total annual impact statewide will exceed $100 million within the first decade of operation.”

The plan provides detailed plans for the use of existing historic and other structures at the NSCS, and notes that some structures not of historic value would be removed and significant additional facilities constructed over time. The campus would be developed in accord with UGA’s main campus planning guidelines, including preservation of the tree canopy. The NSCS campus would be reopened to the public after being a secure military facility for many years.

Other key points made in the application:
• While many other military bases involved in the local redevelopment process are quite large in land area and are amenable to multiple purpose re-use, the NSCS campus is only 58 acres, a relatively small area, all of which will be required to accommodate the several inter-related programs in the health and medical fields which will be part of the center. These include the UGA College of Public Health; the MCG School of Nursing at Athens; allied health programs to train non-physician health professionals; health and risk communications; and continuing medical education. The proposed Health Sciences Center would include a clinical facility, a medical library, a student lounge, a medical school administration building and faculty offices.
• Though the NSCS property is not expected to be available until 2011, curricular and program developments for the Health Sciences Center will occur prior to that date, with the first class of 40 medical students projected to enter the program in fall 2009 in a temporary location, with classes of 40 new students added each fall thereafter. Therefore, some transition and redevelopment activities would be useful prior to 2011, if space becomes available on the NSCS campus.
• The NSCS site is within the Prince Avenue medical corridor that includes Athens Regional Medical Center and nearby St. Mary’s Hospital.
• The property formerly was owned by the University of Georgia and used as the State Normal School. It was conveyed to the United States Navy in 1954 for the purpose of building the Navy Supply Corps School. UGA will request a deed transfer of the property from the United States Department of Education through Public Benefit Conveyance.