Monday, December 5, 2016

Medical Hubs to Spur Valley's Growth

Courtesy: Jim Skeen AVPress Nov 10 2016 LANCASTER - A plan to turn the area around Antelope Valley Hospital into a "Medical Main Street" will help keep talent from leaving the region and will spur economic development, city officials said Wednesday. The city wants to create a medical and healthy lifestyle hub on roughly 360 acres around the hospital. The area includes about 100 vacant acres, of which roughly 40% are owned by the hospital, which is partnering with the city on the effort. During a presentation before the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce, Councilman Raj Mahli talked about how area students leave the valley to attend college and do not return. As an example, Mahli said two of his high school friends left the valley and became doctors and never returned. Medical Main Street will create a desirable area that will give students a reason to return after college, he said. "My high school buddies aren't coming here," Mahli said. "What I really hope is when my son and his friends graduate from high school and go away that they will come back and work in this community." The area the city is looking at stretches from 20th Street West to east of 12th Street West at Avenue J, and from north of Avenue J to the shopping center on 15th Street West north of Avenue K that contains offices of High Desert Medical Group. "Today the hospital is very isolated," said Chenin Dow, a management analyst with the city. "We would like to bring dining opportunities, shopping opportunities and also housing opportunities for the doctors and nurses." The city has approximately $13 million in grant funding secured for the initial improvements to the area. Sargent Town Planning, a Los Angeles-based firm that specializes in urban planning and designs that emphasize pedestrian- and transit-oriented neighborhoods, has been hired to prepare a master plan and environmental impact report for the project. The planning work is about 40% complete and will take about a year to 18 months to finish, said Vern Lawson Jr., Lancaster's economic development director. Sargent will also prepare an economic analysis for the project. The hospital already employs about 2,500 workers, Lawson said. "I would expect to double that," Lawson said. "We certainly have room to grow. We've always been the center of medical in the Antelope Valley and we want to make sure we continue that and that we shift with the times. I think this plan does that."

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