Almanac

News - July 20, 2011

Hospital project wins final approval

by Gennady Sheyner

After an unexpected last-minute delay, Stanford University Medical Center's bid to dramatically expand its hospital facilities surged past the finish line July 11 when the Palo Alto City Council gave the $5 billion project its final approval.

The council's vote came a week after Stanford agreed to relocate a day care center at one of the construction sites, thereby resolving an 11th-hour dispute with the parents whose children attend the Stanford Arboretum Children's Center.

Stanford earned the city's initial approval June 6 after nearly 100 public hearings. But the hospital was forced to halt its celebrations a week later because of protests from dozens of parents whose children attend the day care center near the Hoover Pavilion.

The parents, many of them Stanford University professors, argued that the project's environmental analysis failed to adequately consider the impact of construction on the day care center. After hearing these objections, Stanford asked the council to delay its "second reading" of the approval — a largely procedural vote that would have made its earlier approval final.

The city's approval of the massive project, nearly four years in the making, became official July 11. As part of its settlement with the parents, Stanford agreed to move the day care center and to postpone construction on the parking garage near Hoover Pavilion until the center is relocated. After hearing about the deal, the council voted 7-0, with Gail Price absent and Larry Klein abstaining, to give Project Renewal the final go-ahead.

The expansion project, which city officials often call the largest in Palo Alto's history, would add about 1.3 million square feet of development to the city. It includes reconstruction of Stanford Hospital & Clinics, an expansion of the Lucile Packard Children's Center and renovations to various Stanford University School of Medicine buildings.

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