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Council OKs $270-Million Hospital Expansion Plan

Winding up one of the most complicated negotiations in city history, the City Council unanimously voted early Thursday to approve a $270-million reconstruction and expansion project for St. John’s Health Center.

The project, set to begin late next year, would involve piecemeal demolition and rebuilding of the 56-year-old facility, which was heavily damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake.

St. John’s officials have to agree to the city’s proposals. They say it could take three more months before they decide whether to accept four amendments tacked on during the tense marathon council meeting that began Wednesday night.

In addition, some residents are still fuming over the relocation of the emergency room entrance from Santa Monica Boulevard to mostly residential Arizona Avenue.

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The project--funded through private donations and earthquake relief funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency--includes a new 150-room hospital, and plans for a new health and wellness center, research facilities, and 300 units of senior citizens’ housing.

At this week’s council meeting, council members were divided over amending the project. Mayor Robert Holbrook warned that some of the amendments could ruin the deal and run St. John’s out of town or out of business. Councilwoman Ruth Ebner apologized to St. John’s for her colleagues’ requests.


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