Two UF Health departments will open in January 2020 at the former Sears space in the Oaks Mall.
The ophthalmology and otolaryngology centers, which specialize in ear, nose and throat treatment, will open together in the space along with an imaging center with X-ray, MRI and CT scans, and a surgery center, said Ed Jimenez, the chief executive officer of UF Health Shands. The UF Board of Trustees approved the $73 million for the project Dec. 7.
UF will be in a 20-year lease with eight five-year renewal options, Jimenez said. The new space is about 140,000 square feet.
The space, called UF Health The Oaks, located on West Newberry Road, is currently under renovation, said Rossana Passaniti, the media relations coordinator in UF Health. The center will hire 100 employees and rent will cost $6 per square foot. There are also 649 existing parking spaces from the former Sears store. UF pays $545K in rent per year for the clinics at UF Health Hampton Oaks and UF Health Medical Plaza.
“It’ll pay itself back easily,” Jimenez said.
Officials chose the Sears area because it’s an open space where that could be designed to fit the center’s needs, Jimenez said. The new center is needed because the departments have grown in the number of patients and faculty in the last five years.
With the increase in faculty, new equipment is also needed, which can become expensive when trying to fit it into older spaces, Jimenez said.
“If you went to see these facilities — they’re a little vintage,” Jimenez said. “They’re not the contemporary UF Health kind of space.”
Combining the departments into one space will bring more foot traffic into the mall, especially when families bring patients for the surgery center, Jimenez said.
“We’re just excited with the fact that there is stuff going on,” Jimenez said. “It creates diversion time for patients and their families.”
A rendering of the UF Health The Oaks, which is scheduled to open in January 2020 in the former Sears in the Oaks Mall. The UF Board of Trustees approved $73 million for the project. Courtesy to The Alligator.