VA looking to expand its research facilities 

click to enlarge The Veterans Administration Medical Central is looking at several properties in the Mission Bay area, including land owned by UC San Francisco. - CINDY CHEW/2008 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Cindy Chew/2008 S.F. Examiner file photo
  • The Veterans Administration Medical Central is looking at several properties in the Mission Bay area, including land owned by UC San Francisco.

The San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center is eyeing an expansion into Mission Bay to increase the size of its research facilities. The veterans hospital, located in the Outer Richmond district, houses the top research program in the VA system and it’s currently gathering information to gauge the feasibility of expansion and whether it can be funded through a private-public partnership.

“We have a sufficient space gap,” VA Medical Center spokeswoman Judi Cheary said. “We are so cramped at the current location.”

The VA is looking to add roughly 340,000 square feet of space to its facilities — 260,000 square feet for research and another 80,000 for administrative purposes, Cheary said.

She said the VA is checking out three potential Mission Bay locations: the Salesforce property across from the UC San Francisco campus, a Mission Bay Development parcel at 701 16th St. near Interstate Highway 280 and land owned by UCSF.
The VA is exploring the possibility of a private-public partnership because it seems unlikely that Congress will allocate the funds — expected to be about $500 million – for new facilities given the current fiscal climate in Washington, D.C.

Cheary said the VA is working with the Bay Area Council Economic Institute to conduct a study exploring the possibility of expansion.

“We’re evaluating whether Mission Bay would be feasible to relocate portions of our research facilities to, and if a private-public partnership is something that government can engage in,” she said.

The hospital is a leader in the fields of post-traumatic stress disorder, Alzheimer’s and brain trauma research, and Cheary said its research team of roughly 1,000 is outgrowing the current facilities.

“We’re landlocked in a residential neighborhood,” Cheary said. “Our facilities are over 75 years old, so it’s difficult — if not impossible — to expand on our existing footprint of land.”

Ray Holland, president of the Planning Association for the Richmond, said his group is pleased that the VA is looking to expand its facilities outside of the neighborhood. He said the hospital already impacts traffic and parking at its current size.
“We’ve been urging them to do this for quite a while,” Holland said. “It certainly makes sense.”

pgackle@sfexaminer.com

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