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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Cook acquires Westchester Plaza site

Cook Children’s Medical Center has acquired the site of the old Westchester Plaza at the corner of Summit and Pennsylvania in what one official described as “a prudent and pragmatic move.”

Westchester Plaza, built to great anticipation in 1951 as a luxury apartment building, was later converted to what became a problem-plagued assisted living center and was imploded March 18, 2018, clearing the way for redevelopment of the slightly more than four-acre site in the city’s thriving Medical District.

“When the Westchester Plaza property became available, it presented a unique opportunity to purchase property in close proximity to the medical center while at the same time giving us a chance to look toward the future,” Spencer Seals, Vice President of Construction and Real Estate for Cook Children’s said in a statement.

“Our projected growth over the next few years indicates securing this property is a prudent and pragmatic move that could be very beneficial as we continue to serve our patient families,” the statement said.

“Medical center leadership and our board are carefully considering options but no decisions have been made and may not be made for some time,” Seals said in the statement.

Mike Brennan, president of Near Southside Inc., said Cook Children’s Medical Center is a great partner and has been in regular contact about expansion needs as its service area grows and the regional population increases rapidly.

“So, it wasn’t a surprise to learn of their interest in the Westchester property, immediately adjacent to their existing campus. Other institutions in the district have pursued similar acquisitions for long-term growth,” Brennan said.

“We feel good knowing that the Cook team has always set a high standard for design quality at the medical center, and I’m confident that the site’s long-term development will meet that same level of quality. We look forward to working with them as short-term and long-term plans come together,” Brennan said.

The property was owned by Fort Worth-based 554 S. Summit 1 LLC, which decided that renovation was not practical and clearing the land was the best option.

The building – styled by architects as Mid-Century Modern – was imploded by Dallas Demolition, using about 300 pounds of strategically placed explosives.

In 2014, a California real estate investment trust wanted to buy the building, demolish it and redevelop the site into apartments, retail, medical-office and parking. HCP Inc., of Irvine, Calif., sought $3.9 million reimbursement for infrastructure costs from the Southside tax increment finance district, but that deal collapsed.

In August 2017, the residents still in assisted living at Westchester Plaza were told to move out of the facility, which had a long history of financial and regulatory problems. It was licensed for 275 people and mostly served elderly and disabled individuals. It had been in business since 1998.

The area was known as Quality Hill in the late 19th century and was the successor to Samuels Avenue as the city’s prestigious residential neighborhood, Brenda S. McClurkin and Historic Fort Worth Inc. wrote in the book Fort Worth’s Quality Hill. A few of the original homes in the area remain, used primarily for business offices.

Includes material from Business Press Archives

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Paul Harral
Paul is a lifelong journalist with experience in wire service, newspaper, magazine, local and network television and digital media. He was vice president and editor of the editorial page of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and editor of Fort Worth, Texas magazine before joining the Business Press. What he likes best is writing about people in detail and introducing them to others in the community. Specific areas of passion are homelessness, human trafficking, health care and aerospace.

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