Stuck in limbo for years and mired in an intense negotiating process, the major rebuild of one Mission district hospital and the construction of a new hospital on Van Ness Avenue was finally approved Tuesday.
California Pacific Medical Center, a Sutter Health affiliate, received approval to rebuild St. Luke's Hospital and build a new 274-bed, 12-story facility on the closed Cathedral Hill Hotel site.
At times the project appeared doomed as negotiations fell apart. But with the help of an outside mediator, local entrepreneur Lou Giraudo, a deal was finally struck.
In the end, CPMC scaled back its Cathedral Hill proposal — initially envisioned at 555 beds — and in the face of concerns about closure made a commitment to keep St. Luke's open by increasing its beds from 80 to 120.
The unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday was praised by Mayor Ed Lee, who called the project "an unprecedented investment."
"Because of the Board of Supervisors, we are back on track to rebuild two of The City's most important hospitals to ensure quality health care for patients and guarantee seismic safety for generations of San Franciscans," Lee said in a statement.
The development comes with about $80 million in a community benefits package, with millions of dollars being invested in job training programs, local nonprofit health clinics, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and affordable housing.
"This project will not only address major health care and local hiring needs throughout The City but transportation and specific needs in the immediate vicinity of these two hospitals," said board President David Chiu, who helped negotiate the final deal.
The agreement includes $36.5 million in affordable-housing funding, $4 million for workforce training programs, $6.5 million for the transit agency and $5 million for the planned bus rapid transit project along the Van Ness Avenue corridor.
The deal also establishes a 10-year baseline of charity care and caps rates for health care increases for 10 years for The City's medical benefits for government workers.
Also on Tuesday, the board delayed the scheduled debate on how to change the appeals process under the California Environmental Quality Act, also known as CEQA. A vote on dueling pieces of legislation, one proposed by Supervisor Scott Wiener and another by Supervisor Jane Kim, that would reform the local process was postponed until July 9, the board's next meeting.