The Cancer Center of Santa Barbara has taken a victorious leap forward toward expansion, since the Santa Barbara City Council gave it a Community Priority designation last month.

Part of the project is the construction of a comprehensive treatment facility for outpatients, a significant change from the multiple facilities the Cancer Center currently operates.

The City Council granted approval to the project under the priority designation because the Cancer Center is “a local, nonprofit organization that is necessary to provide present and projected needs for cancer treatment in the Santa Barbara area,” according to an extensive report from the Santa Barbara Planning Commission. The current center was designed and built several decades ago. “Technology continues to get better, and requires more space,” said Rick Scott, the organization’s president. “Now, more so than ever, there’s personalized care designed for the individual,” he added.

Playing a key part in the push for expansion was commitment to supporting the cutting-edge care for which the Cancer Center is known. A centralized approach—putting all services in one building—will allow the Cancer Center to deliver services more efficiently, Scott said, besides simplifying the process for patients.

“The new center will allow us to bring outpatients to one facility,” he said. “It gets the incredible physicians working together in one multidisciplinary environment.”

Considering the massive size and cost of the undertaking, it is still extremely early in the process. Now that the proposal has the council nod, Scott said, planners will continue with more detailed design plans and construction drawings. Though the skids will be greased, those plans will still have to go through city planning and eventually to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development in Sacramento.

Plans for the capital campaign are also underway. Scott said they’re preparing to start fundraising in earnest in the early part of 2011. The project will cost about $55 million, he said, which includes not only building and construction but also about $12 million in equipment. The board of trustees at the Cancer Center have already set aside $20 million, and are looking to raise the remainder through the campaign.

The start date for construction is contingent upon funding, Scott said, but the hope is to break ground about two years from now, toward the end of 2012. And, according to the Planning Division report, all phases of construction will last approximately three years.

The Cancer Center currently offers services at Cottage Hospital, as well as at its own facilities between Junipero and Pueblo streets, where the new center will also be located. Currently on the site are a 17,444 square-foot main medical building, five medical office buildings, a residential duplex, a residential triplex, an uninhabitable single-family dwelling, and accessory structures, according to the Planning Commission report. The 10 lots on the site would be merged into one 3.38-acre lot.

Cottage Hospital will continue to provide services for inpatients, emergency patients, and outpatients, while the new facility will be for outpatients only. The existing main medical building will be replaced with a 53,407 square-foot, three-story medical building. Plans also include a three-story, 66,179 square-foot parking structure with 169 spaces.

The proposed project will also result in six residential units, to be offered to Cancer Center employees. These will be used as a recruiting tool, since the cost of living in Santa Barbara makes it challenging to attract workers.

“We are very excited about it,” Scott said. “These are tough economic times, but we’re talking about building for the next 40 to 50 years … We’ve stayed on the cutting edge of cancer care, and it’s essential that we have a facility that allows us to do that.”


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