Quantcast
StarBulletin.com

Proposed UH cancer center pushed back to square one after site, contract changes


By

POSTED: Friday, October 02, 2009

Planning for a new Cancer Research Center of Hawaii appears back at the starting gate after a site change and the University of Hawaii's termination of a contract with a developer it retained in March 2005.

Developments since January have changed the course of the new cancer center, sought to ease crowded conditions at the current building next to the Queen's Medical Center at 1236 Lauhala St.

They include a new director with a different vision for the center, a lawsuit against UH by Townsend Capital, initial developer of the new building, and a newly formed advisory steering group to advise new UH President M.R.C. Greenwood on how to expedite the project.

“;I am puzzled by the developments,”; Louis Kiang, Townsend's executive for the UH project, said by telephone last month from the company offices in Baltimore. However, he declined further comment because of the lawsuit.

;

UH officials also declined comment because of the litigation.

“;Regardless of the recent legal action taken, we will do everything possible in getting this building under way,”; Greenwood said.

The Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii is seeking proposals for “;project management services”; for the new cancer center with cost estimates from $125 million to $235 million. Oct. 20 is the deadline to submit proposals.

Much hinges on getting a new cancer center built, including:

» A stream of tobacco tax funding (totaling $30 million to $40 million) allocated to the cancer center by the Legislature.

» Continued National Cancer Institute designation as one of 63 cancer centers nationally, which has resulted in $1.5 million to $1.6 million annually.

UH officials concluded long-term lease negotiations in January with the Hawaii Community Development Authority, which oversees the 5.5-acre site known as “;Lot C,”; initially selected for the new cancer center. The site, Ewa of the medical school in Kakaako, is used for parking.

A UH news release Jan. 29 said the university was in discussions with Townsend, “;a firm experienced in cancer research projects throughout the United States that was selected by the UH with which to conduct extensive negotiations.”;

The statement said if negotiations with Townsend were concluded successfully, “;the design phase for a research and clinical trials facility is estimated to be completed by mid-2010, at which time we will proceed into construction.”;

A month later the university's Board of Regents adopted a resolution accepting a recommendation from former UH President David McClain to build the cancer center on the John A. Burns School of Medicine grounds in Kakaako, called “;Lot A.”;

The cancer center would go on a site identified on the school map for “;future research building,”; now used for parking. A proposed Pacific Regional Biocontainment Laboratory would be located in the same area, the HCDA said.

Michele Carbone, recently appointed Cancer Research Center director, changed the vision of the new center after becoming interim director last December. Instead of a stand-alone facility, he gained hospital support with a proposed “;matrix”; model in which research at the center would be applied to diagnosis and treatment at existing hospitals.

Without a need for a clinical facility or doctors' offices at the new center, Carbone said the cancer center could be downsized from its original planned size of 200,000 square feet.

Minutes of the UH regents' February meeting show they authorized McClain “;to negotiate with a firm for various services related to the development of a cancer research center, excluding services related to obtaining private financing, for a time period not to exceed 90 days and for a fee substantially less than any fee proposal received to date.”;

According to Townsend's suit, the developer “;conducted studies, including a feasibility study involving water quality for the Kewalo Marine Laboratory, parking studies and extensive work on the Pacific Regional Biocontainment Laboratory 'PacRBL' project.”;

The suit says that UH, in a letter dated April 30, “;unjustifiably”; notified Townsend it had no enforceable rights to develop or construct the project. UH sent the developer a letter June 3 “;purporting unilaterally to terminate Townsend's contract rights.”;

Greenwood, in a news release, said the new cancer center is one of the highest priorities for the university, and the steering group is charged with advising her how best to complete actions necessary for the cancer center's development.

 

Developments since January have changed the course of the new Cancer Research Center of Hawaii. Changes include a new director with a different vision for the center, a lawsuit against UH by Townsend Capital, initial developer of the new building, and a newly formed advisory steering group to advise new UH President M.R.C. Greenwood on how to expedite the project.