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$135M Cancer Center, Phoenix Biomedical Campus Look to December Groundbreaking

By Ken Alltucker for The Arizona Republic

Original Headline: UA medical school in Phoenix a hub of growth

The new Health Sciences Building which came from an expansion to the Phoenix
Biomedical Campus in Phoenix, AZ, on July 19, 2012.
Photo Credit: Patrick Breen/The Republic

With the arrival of 80 fresh-faced medical students for classes this week at University of Arizona’s medical school in Phoenix, Arizona’s grand experiment to create a medical and research hub in downtown Phoenix takes another step forward.

Beyond the new building, new programs and new students, the campus is scheduled to expand later this year with the groundbreakings of a 250K SF University of Arizona Cancer Center and a privately funded biotech lab next to the building anchored by the Translational Genomics Research Institute and International Genomics Consortium.

Cancer Center

St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center and the University of Arizona are still negotiating lease terms for the $135 million cancer center even though the Phoenix wanted such details to be completed by the end of June. Both parties insist that they are on track to meet the most important goal established by Phoenix: starting construction by Dec. 22.

Alberts said development costs could end up being less than the estimated $135 million because construction and materials costs have dropped since the recession. The University of Arizona has pledged $85 million in bonds to fund the bulk of the project’s development costs. Phoenix also has pledged $14 million. The University of Arizona Foundation expects to raise more than $30 million from private donors for the balance of funding.

Arizona leaders have high expectations that the Phoenix Biomedical Campus will sprout jobs, health-care professionals and medical discoveries that bolster Arizona’s effort to grow its health-care and biotechnology sectors. And even though the biomedical campus has had challenges — such as Arizona State University ending its partnership with UA’s medical school and leadership changes — university officials are optimistic about the biomedical campus’ potential.

Phoenix Biomedical Campus

The other new building slated for the downtown Phoenix Biomedical Campus is one planned between the existing TGen and Arizona Biomedical Collaborative building on Fifth Street.

The Boyer Co., a Salt Lake City-based developer, is attempting to lease space to companies or other users for the planned six-story, 150K SF building. No leases have been announced for the building, but plans call for construction to start before the end of the year, according to Jeremy Legg, of Phoenix’s economic development department.

Boyer also plans to develop a 1,250-space parking garage on the campus. The timing and finances of the parking garage may be tricky because Boyer needs to ensure enough workers from both the cancer center and the lab will fill the garage before it can start construction. And those users could be assessed a monthly fee of $60 to $90, or perhaps more, for parking at the garage.

Expanding Medical Campus

As the UA’s medical-school campus expands in downtown Phoenix, it also is shaping an identity that is unique from the UA’s main medical-school campus in Tucson. Just last month, the Phoenix campus received its own preliminary accreditation from the Association of American Medical Colleges. The Phoenix campus previously operated under the Tucson campus’ accreditation.

While some Tucson faculty have expressed worries in the past that the Phoenix campus would divert the medical school’s limited resources, a UA spokesman said that each campus should build off its strengths. The Phoenix students may benefit from learning from scientists at Barrow Neurological Institute, Banner Alzheimer’s Institute or TGen. Conversely, the Tucson students can learn from experts at the Sarver Heart Center or the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.

Read more at AZCentral