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Fairmount Park Commission Approves Fox Chase Cancer Center Expansion Plan

FPC approval allows Fox Chase to build much-needed patient care and research facilities, creates 4,000 new city jobs, and directs thousands of dollars for Burholme Park maintenance and improvements.

PHILADELPHIA (March 9, 2005) -- In a move that reaffirms Philadelphia's position as a world leader in cancer research and treatment, the Fairmount Park Commission today approved Fox Chase Cancer Center's plan to expand at its Northeast Philadelphia campus by utilizing 19.4 acres in neighboring Burholme Park. The plan will create approximately 4,000 new city jobs through a series of phased expansions over 20 years.

The Fairmount Park Commission will lease the 19.4 acres to Fox Chase for 80 years and give the cancer center the option to renew the lease for two additional multi-year periods. In return, Fox Chase will pay the Commission $2.25 million dollars over three years, plus a percentage of construction costs as new buildings are developed in the phased construction plan. The Commission expects to utilize 50 to 75 percent of the money from this agreement for maintenance and improvements in Burholme Park.

"We are grateful to the Fairmount Park Commission for its support of the plan to position Fox Chase as one of the premier cancer centers in the world," said Fox Chase president Robert C. Young, MD. "Its decision represents the culmination of many hours of meetings and discussions involving all of the stakeholders in this project - including our neighbors, local businesses, city officials, and a great many other interested citizens. The Commission took the time to hear all sides, and it used this information to help craft a better plan that will benefit the Center and the community."

A component of the agreement calls for replacing the acreage utilized by Fox Chase in Burholme Park. The Fairmount Park Commission has identified the 15-acre parcel of land owned by Fox Chase at Laurel Avenue in Cheltenham Township. Fox Chase will maintain its administrative offices located at Laurel Avenue. The construction of the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge will move forward as planned.

Fox Chase Cancer Center's expansion plan is expected to be completed in about 20 years and will add as many as 4,000 permanent new jobs and $40 million in local tax revenues to a city which is working to expand its workforce. Fox Chase's expansion will include a new state-of-the art hospital, an outpatient treatment center, and cutting-edge research facilities.

The Center's board of directors is expected to consider the commission's decision at its next meeting March 29, which will allow them to address the "hold" placed on two patient care facilities to be constructed on the current Fox Chase campus. The $70 million dollar construction projects were halted last fall until negotiations with the Fairmount Park Commission were completed. As part of this phase of expansion, Fox Chase will also construct a parking garage on the newly acquired land.

The approved plan represents a compromise that significantly reduced the Burholme Park acreage sought for the project -- from 25 acres to 19.4 acres. Young explained the revisions: "Our plan reflects several thoughtful suggestions made by those impacted by our growth. For example, it was suggested that we build a parking facility underground to preserve more parkland and we plan to do that. It was suggested that we construct higher buildings to preserve parkland, and we can do that while respecting other neighbors who want our buildings significantly hidden by the canopy of trees. It also was suggested that we shift our entire footprint to the west to avoid using land where the playground currently exists, and we have been able to do that as well."

In February, the Fairmount Park Commission appointed a subcommittee to vet the revised plan and negotiate the final terms. The Fox Chase expansion plan leaves intact the Burholme Park playground, ballparks, sledding hill and Ryerss Museum. Its primary focus instead is on land currently being used for business purposes (the golf driving range and batting cages), although the plan allows for this business to continue operating until such time as the land is actually needed for construction.

"Nearly the same amount of parkland actively used now will be available to the public after our expansion," Dr. Young explained. The revised plan makes more use of the passive area in the park. When combined with the amount of acreage currently fenced off and used for commercial purposes, the total of actively usable and available land will be within two acres of the actively used land now. "We are especially pleased that this agreement allow us to make a significant direct financial investment in Burholme Park."

"This plan will allow Fox Chase to create the research and treatment facilities that will be necessary to treat the more than 10,000 patients who will need our help in the next decade," Dr. Young said. "Cancer is primarily a disease of the aging, and as our population grows older, demand for treatment will continue to rise dramatically. The demand for cancer care will explode in the next decade. We need to grow to handle this demand, and this plan allows us to do so."

EwingCole, a national firm headquartered in Philadelphia, is the architect, engineer and planner for the expansion project.

Fox Chase was founded more than 100 years ago with the opening of the nation's first cancer hospital in West Philadelphia. It moved to its current location in 1968. The 100-bed hospital remains one of the few facilities in the country devoted entirely to cancer care. Today, Fox Chase sees more than 6,500 new patients a year-a number that is expected to double by 2015.

Fox Chase Cancer Center, part of the Temple University Health System, is one of the leading cancer research and treatment centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence four consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach.  For more information, call 1-888-FOX CHASE or (1-888-369-2427).

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