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A man jogs passed the site of a future medical facility that the UC Regents have agreed to lease for 30 years for $147 million. (photo by Brandon Wise)

MID-CITY — The UCLA Hospital System is expanding its presence in Santa Monica with a 30-year deal to occupy a new outpatient surgery facility to be built on 16th Street.

The three-story, 45,000 square-foot project is planned for a parking lot across the street from the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital and could be under construction by March, the project’s developer, Randy Miller, said.

Miller said the Regents of the University of California have agreed to pay $147 million for the 30-year lease. He paid $13.25 million for the site in December of 2007 with the intent of building a medical facility for UCLA, he said. The total cost of the project is expected to be about $50 million.

“There was never a deal assured when we bought the property but we knew that they had a need for this facility and the community had a need for this facility,” he said.

UCLA acquired Santa Monica Hospital in 1995 because it had run out of room for its medical school on the Westwood campus. The Santa Monica facility has since evolved into a key resource for the university.

UCLA medical programs conducted in Santa Monica include orthopedics, oncology, childbirth and pediatrics.

UCLA is planning to house eight operating rooms for outpatient surgeries at the proposed facility as well as oncology equipment for radiation treatments, said Posie Carpenter, chief administrative officer for Santa Monica-UCLA Medial Center and Orthopaedic Hospital. The facility will also be used for medical student training.

“As the Santa Monica campus has developed we have moved significant teaching programs here,” she said, adding that the new facility “is truly going to be supportive of furthering our education and our teaching mission.”

It’s somewhat unusual for a public hospital to contract with a private developer for a medical facility. But Carpenter said because of an ongoing renovation project on Santa Monica-UCLA’s main campus the hospital felt it could speed the development process by contracting the job out.

She said she expects the facility to open in the summer of 2012.

“The beauty of it is that we’ll have this resource for the public and for the community much sooner,” she said.

Miller said he expects the project to acquire a gold LEED designation for its environmental friendly design by Santa Monica architect Michael W. Folonis.

One notable feature is the building’s underground, automated garage that will use a mechanical car lift to store 250 cars in a fraction of the space a conventional parking lot would require. Believed to be the first of its kind on the west coast, Miller said the garage saves energy by decreasing drivers’ idling time, reducing the amount of excavation required during construction and limiting lighting and ventilation costs.

The project did not require City Council approval because its scope was within the limits of zoning rules for the site.

nickt@smdp.com

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