In 1983, when the current ACEP headquarters was built, emergency medicine was fairly new as a recognized specialty. Now, with more than 33,000 ACEP members, the needs of this dynamic, growing medical organization have greatly evolved.
Just as many aspects of emergency medicine were different 30 years ago, our building was designed for a very different organization with different staffing and space needs as well as different technological requirements. In the 21st century, ACEP needs a headquarters that better represents the specialty and meets the needs of its members and its mission.
In advance of the June meeting of the ACEP Board of Directors, the Finance Committee provided due diligence to make sure we could continue to advance and meet our financial benchmarks. The Board analyzed the options and decided that the best course of action is to buy land in Irving, Texas, near the Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport, and build a new headquarters.
The ACEP headquarters plays an important role in the work of ACEP’s Board of Directors, many committees, task forces, workgroups, and the Texas College of Emergency Physicians. Important educational trainings such as the Emergency Medicine Basic Research Skills Workshop are already held at the headquarters, and we hope these can be expanded to the Emergency Department Directors Academy, Teaching Fellowship, and other small to medium educational opportunities.
The current ACEP building is dated, requires frequent and costly maintenance, and is energy inefficient.
More important, the current space is already inadequate for staff work critical to support the growing membership and mission-critical activities of ACEP. Any future growth would make it even more challenging. There are insufficient conference rooms and workrooms, and the building lacks state-of-the-art audio/visual equipment.
Out of necessity, ACEP has begun leasing space across the street for some of its staff, which is not optimal for efficiency and collaborative work. ACEP expects to add four to five employees per year over the next five years and projects to have around 150 employees at its headquarters in about 10 years.
After discussing the subject of a new headquarters in varying degrees for more than two years, along with a substantial amount of due diligence, considerable planning and progress have been made.
ACEP commissioned a top-level space-needs analysis and found that at ACEP’s current staff size, we need a building of approximately 42,527 square feet; currently we have 30,474 square feet. If staff grows by 25 percent in the next five years, we would need approximately 50,000 square feet. If we were to grow by 40 percent in 10 years, we could use a building of approximately 57,000 square feet.
After an extensive request-for-proposal process, a real estate consulting firm was selected for the project. It provided a thorough lease-versus-own analysis that concluded ownership of the headquarters is financially more favorable than leasing over a 20-year time horizon. It also conducted an exhaustive analysis of buildings for sale in the area and found no building deemed to be suitable for purchase as they were in the same outdated condition as our current location.
Several tracts of land for potential build-to-suit projects were identified, and in April 2014, the ACEP Board approved pursuing this option.
The preferred 5.8-acre tract of land is close to DFW International Airport and two miles from the current headquarters. For the convenience of our Board, committees, and members who visit, it is adjacent to a full-service hotel. It can hold a 55,000–60,000 square-foot office building with adequate parking.
The Board approved a plan to meet the total project cost of $14.5 million, with $7 million down and financing of $7.5 million. ACEP has healthy financial reserves, with a substantial portion in very low-yielding CDs and fixed-income investments. Additionally, when the current building is sold, ACEP can expect to net about $3.5 million.
Provided that the ongoing land-acquisition negotiations continue favorably, it will likely be spring 2015 before we can break ground, and it will be 18 months or more before we move in.
We believe value to our members and future members will be the result of this investment, and we anticipate more effective and efficient service for our Board, committees, and chapters. A newer, modern headquarters presents further opportunities for ACEP to reflect, develop, and disseminate our values and goals.
Dr. Rosenau is President of ACEP and practices emergency medicine at Lehigh Valley Health Network in Allentown and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Mr. Wilkerson is Executive Director of ACEP.