Orange paves way for medical center
Last updated 2/23/2021 at 10:23pm
Orange City Council Tuesday took two more steps the city hopes will pave the way for a new medical center and hospital beds for the area.
A public hearing was held regarding the creation of the Eagle Point Reinvestment Zone and, hearing no objections, council members voted unanimously to a first reading of an ordinance that would make the zone a reality.
"We're focusing on a 20-acre location at Eagle Point that will potentially be attractive for the medical center that's in the works," said Jay Trahan, the city's assistant city manager and Director of Economic Development for the city.
A second and final reading of the ordinance and following vote will take place at the next council meeting, March 9, Trahan said.
Creating a Reinvestment Zone is a requirement by the state of Texas for a taxing entity to issue tax abatement incentives to new businesses.
In June of 2019, local businesswoman Gisela Houseman donated and designated the 20-acre site at Eagle Point, a large property at the southwest intersection of Interstate 10 and US Route 62, as the site for offices and surgical suites for up to 20 doctors and a small hospital with up to 20 beds.
Local physician Dr. Marty Rutledge announced he had recruited health care pros to bring specialized medicine to Eagle Point, helping to plug a gaping need in Orange County.
The largest county in Texas without its own hospital, Orange County saw Baptist Hospital Orange close its in-patient care in 2015 and shut down its emergency room two years later.
A county-wide election to create a hospital district failed in December 2017.
And Eagle Point plans were sent to the backburner in 2019 by Tropical Storm Imelda, and delayed by later storms and the coronavirus pandemic shutdowns in March of 2020.
The Houseman Companies own the land at Eagle Point, which was to be bisected by a four-lane boulevard, Eagle Point Parkway.
At Tuesday's meeting, Jim Wolf, Orange's public works director, announced plans for the development's major thoroughfare need to be redone.
Low bids on the project are more than the city budget can afford.
"Three of the bids were for about $3 million each, and the fourth bid was close to $5 million," Wolf said. "We felt like the first three bids were representative of what we wanted to do, but we can't afford to do that at this time."
Council members voted to reject all bids and authorized the city to spend another $12,500 to amend the original plans.
"We want to cut the project in half and rebid it," Wolf said.