Knoxville — Tennova Healthcare and the City of Knoxville confirm they are negotiating the possible sale of Physicians Regional Medical Center campus to be the future headquarters of the city's police and fire departments, as well as city court.
City officials said they were evaluating the former St. Mary's hospital campus to see if it meets the needs of both departments, but stressed no deal has been struck. The cost of the project would also be a consideration.
Bill Lyons, Chief Policy Officer & Deputy to the Mayor, said the location was good, and that it appeared there was enough square footage to accommodate the city's needs.
The city has already outlined plans to turn the aging and outdated property that currently houses KPD's headquarters over to businessman and philanthropist Jim Clayton and his family for a multimillion-dollar science museum downtown. Initially, the city spoke with Knoxville College about relocating the city's police headquarters on part of that campus, but that deal fell through.
There is no timeline right now for this project, but David Brace, Chief Operating Officer and Deputy to the Mayor, said the city is optimistic about this site working out. Ar architect is currently looking at the existing facilities to see how they might accommodate what the city would need, how much renovation would be needed, and what it would cost.
While a price tag has not been set, Mayor Madeline Rogero has talked about investing $40 million for the new headquarters. This location, like Knoxville College, would have the benefit of also benefiting an existing neighborhood.
Tennova confirmed it was talking to the city earlier on Tuesday.
"Future use of the East Oak Hill Avenue property has been an important part of Tennova’s long-term planning to transition services from Physicians Regional Medical Center to other locations in the Knoxville region," according to the statement from Tennova.
The hospital is already working to transfer services to its North Knoxville (off Emory Road) and Turkey Creek locations, though details are still being worked out.
“We are excited to collaborate with the City of Knoxville as we consider how best to utilize the Physicians Regional Medical Center property to benefit the community,” said Tony Benton, chief executive officer of Physicians Regional Medical Center and market chief executive officer for Tennova Healthcare in East Tennessee. “The city’s presence on the campus would be a win for the surrounding neighborhood.”
The future of the Physician's Regional location has been in question for several years. In 2015, Tennova announced plans to build a new hospital off Middlebrook Pike to replace Physician's Regional, but scrapped those plans in early 2018, opting instead to start relocating some services. Then in February, said they would consolidate all labor and delivery services at the Physician's Regional location.
This move was first reported in the Compass.