$6 million skilled nursing center to be built in city

HARLINGEN — The city’s hospital district will soon welcome another major facility, a $6 million skilled nursing and rehabilitation center.

The health and rehab center at 2902 S. 77 Sunshine Strip will be the first foray of Momentum Skilled Services into the Rio Grande Valley. The Austin-based company has several nursing and rehab facilities in the Houston area.

“It’s going to be approximately 125 beds, and it will be a skilled nursing facility,” said John Ballard, Momentum’s vice president of operations. “We’ll do rehab, lower-level rehab, or rehab on patients that come from the hospital, and it will be a long-term care facility as well.”

Ballard said Momentum will have five facilities in the Houston area by the end of the year, and the Harlingen site will be the company’s sixth.

“We’ve got three in Houston currently, we’re building a fourth one in Houston right now, and that’s in the Cypress area in the northwest part of town,” he added. “And we’re purchasing a facility in North Houston on Feb. 1 and then we take over the facility that’s about 10 years old.”

Ballard said the Harlingen nursing center, which for now has a working name of Sunshine Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, eventually will employ 100 to 120 people.

The spread of the city’s medical district, anchored by nearby major hospitals Valley Baptist Medical Center and Harlingen Medical Center, is rapidly expanding along South 77 Sunshine Strip.

Momentum’s new nursing facility will be built next to the Horizon Montessori III school between Vermont Avenue and North Whalen Road.

The medical district along Ed Carey Drive and South 77 Sunshine Strip is one of the fastest-growing retail and business sections of the city.

Within roughly the past three years, about $50 million in investment dollars has flowed into the area to fund both health care-related facilities and other businesses. With the addition of Momentum’s skilled nursing facility and the UTRGV Neurosciences Institute, investment in the medical district area will hit $70 million to $85 million.

“South Texas is a great market,” Ballard said. “Actually, I was just down there for a funeral. We had an emergency situation where we had to take my mother-in-law to the hospital and we were at Baptist hospital and my wife and myself were both amazed at how the nursing staff and the doctors down there were really nice, very cordial, very attentive.

“You don’t see that in Houston, and I was very impressed with that,” Ballard added.

Ballard also said his research into the RGV health care market shows a staffing stability which other areas cannot replicate.

“I know people who run buildings in South Texas and they love it,” Ballard said. “You don’t lose staff like you do in Houston. It seems like they retain a lot of their staff, they don’t move around like they do in the big city. Which is nice, and that’s good to hear.”

Ballard said the construction phase of the project would probably be completed in about a year, and he says Momentum hopes to open the facility in February or March 2020.

Rheinlander Architects of Austin is designing the nursing center.

What it is

LOCATION — 2902 S. 77 Sunshine Strip

PURPOSE — Skilled nursing and rehab facility

BEDS — 125

JOBS — 100 to 125

COST — $6 million

OWNER — Momentum Skilled Services