Moffitt Cancer Center making over former Continental Airlines building

TAMPA — Moffitt Cancer Center has started gutting a former Continental Airlines reservation center for its new $22 million Moffitt South clinical services center.

When the dust settles in July, Moffitt will relocate its current south county operation from rented space in Tampa General Hospital to the two-story facility that offers four times the space.

Initially, the center near International Plaza will house such services as medical oncology, infusion, radiation therapy and radiology. Moffitt officials expect to see 200 patients a day there with a staff of 55 that earns an average salary of $90,000. Excluding physicians, employment is forecast to top 100 in five years.

Originally built as a reservations hub for defunct Eastern Airlines, the complex later handled most of Continental's call center traffic up and down the Atlantic seaboard. But the growth of online airline booking doomed its future.

Moffitt expects to spend up to $13 million on the renovation, plus another $9 million for equipment. It also will be paying $371,000 annually in rent to the agency that owns Tampa International Airport.

That's about $93,000 less in rent than Continental had been paying for its larger call center that at peak times employed seven times as many workers as Moffitt.

Moffitt's interest in taking over the property was among the first events to undermine confidence that later unraveled the tenure of departed Hillsborough County Aviation Authority director Louis Miller.

Moffitt's interest in the building surprised board members who did not know Miller had scheduled the complex for demolition as functionally obsolete without their approval.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

Moffitt Cancer Center making over former Continental Airlines building 01/18/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 4:00pm]

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