Bids opened for new MAHEC building; part of venture with WCU, UNCA

Bids were opened Tuesday, Dec. 8, for construction of a new building designed to broaden the educations of Western North Carolina health care providers and facilitate the dissemination of information promoting healthy lifestyles.

The building will be constructed on a 13-acre tract at the corner of Vanderbilt and Hendersonville roads – near the intersection of Interstate 40 and U.S. Highway 25 – in Biltmore. The tract is the future campus of the Mountain Area Health Education Center, an arm of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.

The building – the first of two to be built on the new campus – will house classrooms, conference rooms, offices, a medical library, the headquarters facilities of MAHEC, and the North Carolina Center for Health and Aging. Construction is expected to begin early next year.

The Center for Health and Aging is a consortium of MAHEC, Western Carolina University and UNC Asheville – a partnership designed as a national model in developing strategies and leadership to address health issues among the rapidly growing population of aging residents in WNC and across the nation.

“The research and education opportunities that the Center for Health and Aging will bring to North Carolina will benefit people across the state and allow us to discover, create and implement methods of improving health and preventing disease,” said Teck Penland, president and chief executive officer of MAHEC.

Matthews Construction Co. of Charlotte and Concord is the apparent low-bidder on the project, with a bid of $6,145,830. A total of 15 firms submitted bids on the 50,000-square-foot building.

When completed, the new building will replace the current MAHEC facility on Biltmore Avenue. This is the third of three buildings to be erected on the campuses of the consortium.

A $46 million new home for the WCU College of Health and Human Sciences is under construction on the Western Carolina campus. The 160,000-square-foot facility is expected to become the cornerstone of a neighborhood focusing on health care, where students and faculty will study and teach alongside a mixed-use area that could include health care providers, medical device companies and specialized clinics. The building will feature 13 classrooms, 20 dedicated laboratory spaces, four research laboratories and a multidisciplinary clinic providing outpatient health and rehabilitation services. The facility will bring under one roof 11 programs from the College of Health and Human Sciences ranging from physical therapy to nursing.

At UNC Asheville, work is under way on the Center for Health and Wellness, a hub for educating health and wellness professionals, conducting interdisciplinary research, building community and statewide partnerships, and incubating wellness-related community initiatives. Programs in the 133,000-square-foot facility will initially focus on three of the state’s most pressing health concerns: childhood obesity, workplace wellness and senior wellness. Construction of the $42 million center is funded in large part by a $35 million appropriation from the General Assembly; UNC Asheville has raised the remainder in private funds. The center is expected to open in 2011.