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Health Organization Won’t Receive Space in Planned Transit Building

Times Staff Writer

San Diego County will be the primary tenant in the Metropolitan Transit Development Board’s proposed high-rise office, retail and transfer station at 12th and Imperial avenues, taking over space previously alloted to CHAD (Combined Health Agencies Drive, a private fund-raising organization).

In a letter from Starboard Development Co., the project’s developer, submitted at Thursday’s MTDB meeting, CHAD said it has dropped out of the project because its member agencies feel they would be unable to raise the necessary $6.5 million to cover their anticipated share of the costs of the 10-story building.

Instead, county administrative personnel will occupy seven floors--three previously alloted to CHAD and its member health agencies and four which the county had already booked. No space remains for agencies such as COMBO and the San Diego Assn. of Governments, which had been mentioned as potential tenants, said Brad Saunders of Starboard.

“Everyone concerned is heartsick,” said CHAD Executive Director Maxine Coover. “Financially, we couldn’t swing it.”

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CHAD, a fund-raising body for 15 health agencies, had been involved in the project since June. But the development may have moved a little too swiftly for CHAD. Rushing to meet a deadline, CHAD commissioned a feasibility study that cast doubt on the agencies’ ability to raise $6.5 million for the building. Last year, CHAD raised $1.4 million in San Diego County for its members’ research projects, Coover said.

“Normally a feasibility study takes three months,” she said, explaining the deadline facing CHAD. “We weren’t assured that we could raise the money based on the information they collected in two and a half weeks.”

At least 13 of the 15 CHAD agencies had considered moving their offices to the new building, Coover said. But a number of the agencies served by CHAD, including the Lung Assn., the Epilepsy Society, the Heart Assn. and the San Diego Mental Health Assn., currently own their own buildings.

The project also includes a separate six-story 1,250-space parking structure that will serve the adjacent building and the after-hour needs of the convention center when it is completed.

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