JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The University of Mississippi Medical Center is seeking approval from the College Board to buy the vacant Landmark Center office building in downtown Jackson for $6.25 million.
UMMC says it would move some operations downtown to the 300,000 square-foot building to move some offices out of rented quarters and eventually free up more space on campus.
The College Board’s Finance Committee approved the plan Wednesday in a closed meeting and the full board is likely to approve it Thursday.
UMMC said it’s unlikely to see patients in the building, but might open a small outpatient or dental clinic in the seven-story building now owned by Capitol Street Associates, an investor group.
The Landmark Center had been a leading contender to become the state Revenue Department’s new home, but that agency decided it would be cheaper, over the long term, to lease space at the South Pointe office complex in Clinton.
UMMC said it became aware of the building through the Revenue Department search. Two appraisals valued the building at $9.5 million and $11 million, respectively.
The Landmark Center is empty, and overall vacancy rates are high in downtown Jackson. That means UMMC can buy the building much more cheaply than it could build comparable space. Two architects estimated that building a similar structure would cost $59.5 million to $93.5 million.
In the past, UMMC has projected that it would expand across State Street onto property now occupied by Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium and a farmers’ market. But Dr. James Keeton, vice chancellor for health affairs, said the price “is just too good” to pass up.
“The other option is just to continue to lease space in other areas, but to have our own space would be better,” Keeton said.
He said about 200 employees now at the same South Pointe complex where Revenue leased space will move downtown when the lease expires. He also said some other employees would move out of leased space elsewhere. Keeton said the university will renovate and fill the building floor by floor over time.