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OC Health Agency Plans $80M Building in Irvine

68K-SF facility costs $1,105 PSF

The Orange County Board of Supervisors has approved a new Irvine facility for the OC Health Care Agency (OCHCA) that’s projected to cost nearly $80 million to build.

The development at 8226 Marine Way will be built near the southern edge of the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, a short walk from Irvine’s train station.

The nearly 10-acre site includes two parcels—one owned by the county, and one by the Navy.

The OCHCA, primarily using funds from the federal coronavirus response, plans to build a 68,000-square-foot facility that will relocate some of its operations from its current Santa Ana hub and include a new public health lab.

At the end of last month, the board of supervisors approved a design and construction contract with Canada-based PCL Construction Services Inc. totaling $78.2 million.

Along with PCL, which has a local office in Irvine, subcontractors for the project are to include locally based civil engineering firm Fuscoe Engineering and engineering and mechanical firm tk1sc, among others, county records indicate.

Costly Construction

The expected cost of the OCHCA project works out to about $1,150 per square foot.

That’s a significantly higher price than typical office construction in Orange County; other high-end buildings in the area usually cost well under $500 a square foot to build.

The county’s approved other high-priced office deals this year; this summer it approved the $91 million purchase of an industrial building in Tustin that will hold a tech unit of the Sheriff’s Department.

The Tustin deal went for about $758 a square foot, well above the norm for a building of that type.

Service Expansion

The two-story building is expected to house Emergency Medical Services operations, a public health laboratory, the disease control department and administration offices for HCA employees. The project will also include 239 parking spaces, according to filings.

About 25,000 square feet of the building will be dedicated to the public health lab, including a “biosafety lab” component.

Construction is expected to begin next summer and be completed by the end of 2024.
OCHCA is currently based out of a portion of a county-owned, 113,785-square-foot facility in downtown Santa Ana at 405 W. 5th St. It’s expected to maintain those operations.

Demand for a new health facility sprouted up during the pandemic, with officials referring to their current operations as too small and out of date.

The new hub is adjacent to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, in the same region as the Great Park and Great Park Neighborhoods.

“The facility is to be capable of providing essential services to the public after a disaster,” board filings indicate.

The building will be financed in part with dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act—also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package—and other pandemic-era grants.

“If we learned anything from the last few years, it’s the importance of investing in public health and science,” Supervisor Katrina Foley said in a statement. “Once built, the new HCA facilities will transform the way our county maintains public health, navigates health emergencies, and provide key services to community members.”

Public Health Hub

The 10-acre site is near another county-owned property, which is also shaping up to become a public health hub.

Last year, the county received approvals and funds to develop a second behavioral health campus headed by Be Well OC, a public-private partnership between the County of Orange, hospitals and nonprofits.

The project is on a 22-acre portion of the county’s property in Irvine. The treatment facility and data integration system aims to increase access to services that combat substance use and mental illness, as well as alleviate strain on hospitals and emergency responders.

The project received $5 million in state funding last year.

Be Well OC opened its first, 60,000-square-foot treatment hub in Orange at the start of last year. It was a $40 million project, and marked the first of three planned facilities for the region.

“With the first Be Well OC campus in the City of Orange at full capacity, a second campus will expand our ability to provide much needed mental health services for all Orange County’s residents,” Andrew Do, chairman of the board of supervisors, said in a statement.

“Data integration allows county staff across departments to access relevant information for coordination and delivery of services to better meet the needs of individuals utilizing these services.”

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