Hospital projects to get underway on the Peninsula

August 12th, 2011

By Chris Rauber — San Francisco Business Times

Two huge related hospital construction projects at Stanford University and a $210 million Sutter Health clinic project in San Carlos are poised to begin this month or next, if last-minute permits at Stanford come through as expected.

The Stanford projects are the first steps of $3.5 billion in hospital construction work by Stanford Hospital & Clinics and next-door Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in Palo Alto.

Stanford got approval from the city of Palo Alto on the development agreement for the massive projects last month. Officials expect to get permits for specific project work this week or very soon thereafter, said project spokeswoman Sarah Staley.

Meanwhile, Sutter and its Palo Alto Medical Foundation affiliate are in the final stages of site prep work for a 192,000-square-foot, 120-physician outpatient clinic and 1,000-space parking structure in San Carlos, as Phase One of a proposed $550 million medical complex there. Sutter hopes to break ground by mid- to late September, said spokeswoman Cynthia Greaves, and to complete the outpatient facility by 2013.

The Stanford Hospital and Lucile Packard projects are an effort to expand, modernize, rationalize and improve seismic safety at the two hospitals, in part due to state seismic guidelines. Sutter is expanding into San Carlos, where plans for a 110-bed hospital at the San Carlos site, at 301 Industrial Road, have been delayed multiple times, and are still unclear.

Stanford Hospital & Clinics CEO Amir Rubin told the Business Times this spring that Stanford would start shoveling dirt “very shortly” after getting final approvals. Staley said early-stage work, such as gutting the Hoover Pavilion’s interior and beginning site prep work at Welch Road for a major utilities upgrade, including water, gas and information technology infrastructure, can start as soon as relevant permits are issued. That will “enable wheels down and work to commence,” she said Monday.

The Stanford projects have been beset by many delays, but finally appear to be ready to proceed. The Hoover Pavilion, built in 1930 as the Palo Alto Hospital, is being gutted to modernize and optimize clinical space there, Staley said; scaffolding will also be erected shortly for exterior renovation. At Welch Road, parts of Quarry Road and Welch Road will lose lanes for “upwards of two years,” as prep work scales up. This fall, meanwhile, Stanford expects to demolish buildings at 701 Welch Road and 703 Welch Road to clear the way for the expansion of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. Overall, Stanford Hospital is adding 144 new beds and Lucile Packard 104 net new beds.