CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital-Memorial — also known as the former Memorial Medical Center — is expected to be torn down in early 2023, officials said Wednesday.
Nueces County Commissioner's Court members received an update on the plan during Wednesday's regularly scheduled meeting
Though the outside space recently was used as a drive-thru COVID-19 testing and vaccination center, the demolition is a project that's been almost 10 years in the making.
Refurbishing the hospital, which was built in 1944, would require significant taxpayer funding, so a decision was made to demolish the building, said Nueces County Hospital District Chief Executive Officer Jonny Hipp.
CHRISTUS Spohn Health System President and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Osbert Blow said the demolition plans are on schedule, and that he thinks of the work being done as a promise delivered, even though it is bittersweet.
"It’s good progress, but sad," he said. "Memorial has meant a lot more to a lot of people since 1944. It was a hospital where I’d run into people and they were born, they were cared for, some giants have walked through the halls of that building."
Before that final demolition, there will be a decommissioning.
"When we do decommission Memorial, we do it with the utmost respect because it has meant an awful lot to our community," Blow said.
Generations of Corpus Christi residents were born at Memorial, and it also served as Corpus Christi's primary trauma center. It is where Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla-Perez was taken and later died after being shot by her fan club president in 1995.
Asbestos removal and demolition plans are expected to begin later this month, Hipp said.
The site will be converted to a "green space," meaning grass will be planted at the site.
Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales and Commissioner John Marez both referenced hopes for what will become of that site beyond green space.
"There is a vision that goes beyond green grass, and I know that is forthcoming," Canales said. "And it’s time to start planning and preparing that long-range goal. As one building, or buildings come down a new vision rises up and I think that hopefully rises to hopefully healthcare facility complex that serves the community at large."
Marez said that while he didn't agree with the decision at the time to close Memorial, he hopes that by following through now there is a fresh start.
"I think it's a chance to look at the future," he said. "Say we need and fill in the blank."
Sr. Digital Content Producer Ana Tamez contributed to this story.