The University of Nebraska Board of Regents on Friday approved the demolition of the former Munroe-Meyer Institute complex on the University of Nebraska Medical Center campus, clearing the way for what university officials have called another great set of opportunities.
The 7½-acre site where the institute was situated for decades has been identified as a possible location for Project NExT. The project is a proposal by UNMC and Nebraska Medicine that would combine a state-of-the-art teaching hospital and federally funded spaces designed to enhance the nation’s response to a host of different hazards.
Munroe-Meyer moved to a $91 million new home last year in Aksarben Village near 69th and Pine Streets. The institute provides a variety of services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, as well as to those with behavioral and learning disorders such as autism.
The demolition proposal garnered no opposition from regents. NU President Ted Carter noted that the approximately $7 million cost of demolishing the complex and clearing the site would be covered entirely by philanthropic dollars. The work would be slated for completion next spring, depending on weather.
While university officials have stressed that much work remains before Project NExT could become reality, Dr. Jeffrey Gold, UNMC’s chancellor, said recently that the demolition and two other initiatives signal that the university is shovel-ready and prepared to move ahead.
One of the other steps is the Saddle Creek Campus Public Improvements Project, which will launch improvements to roadways, utilities and other infrastructure for the planned expansion of UNMC’s campus west of Saddle Creek Road. The regents also approved that project Friday.
Carter said the $18 million cost of the project would be covered by the City of Omaha. Construction is expected to start in September and wrap up in August 2025.
UNMC officials have been moving ahead on plans to create an “innovation hub” and a new administrative tower west of Saddle Creek. The tower, to be situated on the southwest corner of Saddle Creek Road and Farnam Street, is slated to begin rising this year. Not only will the tower allow the university to consolidate administrative offices that are scattered across campus, it also would be closely tied to Project NExT.
The $18 million for roads and utilities is part of the $93 million the city has pledged over the next decade to support the Saddle Creek expansion and Project NExT.
Gold said a parking structure proposed for the area and other projects tied to NExT are separate from the road and utility work.
Meanwhile, final relocations from the former Munroe-Meyer complex will be completed this spring, leaving the facility empty. The complex consists of four attached structures built in the late 1950s that previously housed Munroe-Meyer, the Hattie B. Munroe Home and J.P. Lord School, which relocated in 2018.
University officials recommended the complex be demolished because it has among the highest utility consumption on campus and contains asbestos.
The site’s proximity to the cancer center, research towers and other facilities “provides an opportunity for a large-scale replacement building connected to the core of campus,” according to the regents’ documents.
Our best Omaha staff photos & videos of February 2022
Julie Anderson is a medical reporter for The World-Herald. She covers health care and health care trends and developments, including hospitals, research and treatments. Follow her on Twitter @JulieAnderson41. Phone: 402-444-1066.