UAB Medical Towers

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Medical Towers Building

UAB Medical Towers, formerly the Medical Towers Building or Medical Mart is a 135,280 square-foot medical office building and 541-space parking deck on the northeast corner of Block 780 below Ramsay High School, with its address at 1717 11th Avenue South.

The $4 million building was constructed in 1972 by Medical Towers Inc., a company incorporated by several members of the Hays family and headed by George Bargeron as president. It was developed primarily for the Medical Inn of Birmingham, a 104-room limited-care diagnostic hospital founded by Bargeron with Bill Featheringill. It was planned that the building would serve as a prototype for a national chain of freestanding diagnostic hospitals aimed at reducing the cost of care for ambulatory patients. The remaining areas were leased out as medical offices and laboratories.

The ground floor housed a pharmacy and radiology laboratory, as well as a restaurant and lounge. Two floors of covered parking above that were topped by two floors of office space. The top two floors were occupied by the Medical Inn. The business model for the Medical Inn proved incompatible with the medical insurers' coverage. In 1973 Hospital Affiliates of Nashville, Tennessee took over the top floors, which was renamed South Highlands Towers, to accommodate the rebuilding of its South Highlands Hospital.

In 1974 it was proposed to convert the Medical Towers into a full-service hospital by adding an inpatient obstetrical-gynecological department at a cost of $2.2 million. That proposal was opposed by the owners of the newly-opened Brookwood Hospital. When the approval was denied the top floors of the building were left vacant.

The Medical Towers Building was acquired by the University of Alabama in Birmingham Medical and Educational Foundation in November 1975. The owners donated their shares to the non-profit, which took over payments on the debt. UAB occupied the top two floors while the other tenants remained. The UAB Heart Evaluation Clinic, led by Albert Oberman, began operating from the 7th floor in 1976.