AUSTIN (KXAN) — Travis County leaders broke ground on a first-of-its-kind mental health emergency facility Tuesday.

Once completed, the Judge Guy Herman Center for Mental Health Crisis Care, named after a long-time Travis County state district judge who has advocated for better access to services, will provide an alternative to University Medical Center Brackenridge’s Psychiatric ER. The center will offer specialized residential crisis care that includes stabilization, assessment and treatment at one location.

“Both the ER and an inpatient psych facility are expensive forms of treatment. The Herman Center will be some place that is less expensive, more appropriate form of treatment,” says community advocate Valerie Dodd Milburn.

The St. David’s Foundation provided an $8.9 million grant for the project. The facility will be built on the property adjacent to the Southeast Health and Wellness Center, facing Highway 71. Central Health, the county’s health care taxing district, made the land in Southeast Austin available through a long-term lease for just a dollar a year.

The Herman Center is expected to open early next year.