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VIRGINIA BEACH, VA-Expansion’s in the air. At least that’s true for the city Planning Commission, which recently approved expansion proposals valued at $71 million for two area medical facilities: Organ and tissue bank LifeNet and Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital. The proposed projects now move up the chain to the Virginia Beach City Council, which will give the final approval or denial on the developments next month.

LifeNet has its eye on city-owned property for its $40 million expansion endeavor. The 22-acre parcel would become home to a 165,000-sf development of office space and “clean room” warehouse space. Once it gets the go-ahead, LifeNet will construct the complex in five stages over a period of about nine years.

“The proposed uses are consistent with the recommendations of the Princess Anne Corridor Plan regarding uses that ‘strengthen and complement the institutional, educational, and cultural activities in this area,’ ” the Commission concluded in its April 9 response to the company’s proposal.

Sentara expects to spend $31 million on its expansion and upgrade project. Citing an increasing demand among patients for more privacy, the healthcare company has planned to make additions to its emergency department, and to construct a four-story, 108-room building, thereby increasing by five the number of private rooms while marinating the same amount of patient beds.

“The proposed improvements will update the hospital and will be beneficial to the community,” the Commission determined. “There is no increase in the number of patient beds, therefore, no additional traffic is expected to be generated by the proposal.”

The new structure and improvements would constitute the first phase of a multi-faceted endeavor that would be built over a five to ten-year period. If approved, Phase I activity would conclude by January 2006.

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