Future City of Hope building in Irvine

Future City of Hope building in Irvine

City of Hope’s announcement of a planned $1 billion investment in a new cancer care center in Irvine, the largest and most ambitious healthcare development proposed for Orange County in over a decade, is a case study in adaptation.

“The world is evolving,” said Emile Haddad, chief executive of Irvine’s FivePoint Holdings LLC, the master developer of Irvine’s Great Park Neighborhoods, where the center will be built out over the next six years or so. The transition is “driven by demographic shifts [and] by technology.”

In terms of community development today, “if you don’t have a partner that is evolving, you’re setting that community up to be obsolete,” Haddad said. “You’re setting yourself up for failure.”

Changing plans on-the-go is evident in the recent actions of FivePoint and Duarte’s City of Hope, an independent research and treatment center for cancer.

A year ago, the two had plans to build a $200 million, 73,000-square-foot cancer center on some of FivePoint’s land near Irvine’s train station. A 2025 date was set for the opening, although that date was in flux due to entitlement issues on the initial land site.

The seven-year plan was soon reconsidered.

“We listened to our patients. We increased our urgency to get here sooner,” City of Hope President Annette Walker said.

In terms of what local patients need, Walker said she asked herself, “What are they really leaving Orange County for, and can we bring it here now?”

The scope of the project also got rethought. In Orange County, 20% or more of cancer patients leave the area for treatment, often go to Duarte’s 100-acre campus about 45 miles from Irvine. “The needs were greater than what we anticipated,” City of Hope Chief Executive Robert Stone told the Business Journal last week.

A new plan was devised with an eye on going bigger, and faster.

73,000 to 190,000 SF

The result was announced last week: a five-fold increase in City of Hope’s investment plans for its Irvine campus, to $1 billion, and perhaps more.

The first part of that funding comes from City of Hope’s purchase of one of four buildings at the FivePoint Gateway office campus, in what looks to be the largest office sale of the year so far in OC.

The currently vacant office at 15161 Alton Parkway runs about 190,000 square feet, more than double the size of what City of Hope initially envisioned.