The University of the Incarnate Word and the San Antonio Independent School District have entered into an exclusive 45-day negotiating period to discuss the possibility of building UIW's proposed osteopathic medical school on the site of Fox Tech's football field.
"This gives them breathing room to try to work things out and the downtown association to try to broker the deal," said Dr. Louis Agnese Jr., president of UIW.
"Healthcare is the No. 1 industry in San Antonio, it's a growing industry, it's a healthy industry and we're excited about how this could help elevate our health professions magnets," added SAISD board president Ed Garza.
Centro Partnership, a nonprofit that works towards promoting downtown growth, will serve as intermediary between the district and university.
Centro's board chair Don Frost said they originally approached Agnese about the idea, which Agnese turned down at first before leaving for an overseas trip. After what Agnese called a "sleepless" night, he called the university's chief financial officer to work on figures for constructing on that site which would cost about $25 million.
"We would be very happy to locate there, it's a very good location for the city from an economic development standpoint," said Agnese.
"We are an urban school district that has been strapped financially and so we look at our real estate as assets that we need to utilize so we want to make sure that this makes sense," said Garza. "We're not locked into any particular scenario as long as it meets the needs of our district from a financial and academic perspective."
In June, UIW announced it was looking at four sites for the medical school, which would be just the second osteopathic medical school in Texas and the 30th in the country.
A UIW-owned facility on Datapoint that's home to the university's optometry school, Brooks City-Base and an area near I-35 and Walters were other locations but Garza believes Fox Tech, which is home to one of the district's two health professions magnet schools is the perfect choice.
"It's an opportunity that most magnet schools don't have, to have the profession at the school and to have a laboratory of a medical center that I don't believe any other health professional magnet school could offer in the state of Texas," said Garza. "SAISD is also supportive of the mayor's vision to bring more urban living downtown and to help revitalize downtown so we believe the investment by Incarnate Word, the partnership with SAISD and the mission of Centro partnership to create a vibrant place to live, work, be educated and play really creates the best scenario for everybody involved."
Agnese plans to submit the top two choices to the university's board in October. The school could open as soon as 2016.