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A compromise on hospital expansion

Posted: September 20, 2008 8:35 p.m.
Updated: November 22, 2008 5:00 a.m.

There has been a lot of talk about G&L Realty and the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital master plan and developers agreement.

Good people in the community have been at odds with each other about who benefits from an agreement that guarantees that G&L can build office buildings and parking structures but does not guarantee the proposed 120 hospital beds that G&L has used to peddle the project.

Rather than argue, why not make everyone a winner? Suffice it to say that G&L is already a big winner, having gotten valuable hospital land way below market value as part of a hospital bankruptcy negotiation.

The goal should be to make the hospital and the city winners as well. G&L will have to give up something, but it could come out of this as big community heroes.

The city manager and his staff could regain credibility on this issue. And the City Council could fulfill campaign promises past and present while making everyone know that the real winner is our city's commitment to health care.

This is about money, lots of it, and how to pay for the hospital tower with its 120 beds and additional operating rooms.

G&L wants to build three office buildings totaling 200,000 square feet. That would eventually result in well over $1 million in gross monthly rents going to G&L.

Even if the City Council wisely decides that community and environmental concerns should (must) limit the project to two office buildings and required parking, that would still generate big rental bucks for G&L.

Hospital CEO Roger Seaver has told the City Council that he cannot guarantee the hospital tower unless he can attract financing, and to be sure, a whole lot of community-generated cash. Well, G&L will be part of our community.

So here's the way it could work for everyone. First, the developer's agreement will need a rock-solid provision that G&L must, as a condition of approval, pay 10 percent of all office building gross rent receipts to the hospital building fund.

And they must continue doing this until the hospital tower with its 120 beds and operating rooms is completed. Talk about motivation to help!

Even G&L's lobbyists might get a Fourth of July parade float. Just imagine Hunt Braly, Scott Wilk, Jeff Lambert and Art Sohikian waving to an adoring crowd thankful for a guaranteed hospital tower.

All the while the community has to hold up its end. The Hospital Board and Foundation will continue its fundraising with the help of its new-found partner, G&L Realty. Perhaps they could even co-sponsor a funding and construction progress thermometer where the community Christmas tree once was.

Also, hospital CEO Roger Seaver should be able to attract additional financing against the guaranteed money coming from G&L. Our city manager can regulate and audit the details while submitting reports to the City Council.

It will require legal and business creativity, but nobody has accused our city government of not being smart.

If nothing else, this idea points to the fact that our hospital CEO and city government have yet to do something to require G&L Realty to guarantee and help pay for the 120 hospital beds that G&L exploits to promote its very profitable office building project.


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