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PHILADELPHIA-In a presentation to Fairmount Park Commissioners, Fox Chase Cancer Center unveiled a 20-year, $1-billion expansion plan that would double its current size adjacent to its present 17-acre campus on Coltman Avenue. In order to do so, it is seeking the use of 25 acres in neighboring Burholme Park, which operates under the authority of the Fairmount Park Commission.

Nearly 80% of Burholme is already used for commercial purposes. The Fox Chase proposal calls for the gain 20 acres that are currently under lease when the tenants’ leases expire, plus an additional five acres. The plan would reconfigure the park’s existing commercial footprint, bringing it closer to the Fox Chase campus. The park’s sledding hill, ballparks and Ryerss Museum would not be impacted by the plan.

In exchange for approval, Fox Chase would fund the purchase of 25 acres of parkland elsewhere at a site chosen by the Commission and help fund upkeep on Burholme’s remaining parkland. Stephanie Naidoff, city commerce director, indicated Mayor John Street’s support for the plan. While stressing the importance “of helping Fox Chase grow at its current campus,” she says, “We must still come to agreement on the terms of this transaction.”

“We considered expanding by acquiring property in various parts of the region,” says Dr. Robert C. Young, president of the cancer center, “but splintering our patient care operations and research is not consistent with what a ‘comprehensive cancer center’ is. The interaction between scientists and physicians is key to the rapid translation of laboratory discoveries for patient care.”

The expansion includes construction of a new 200-bed hospital, outpatient treatment center and research facilities. The first phase of the plan is construction of a five-story, 300,000-sf research pavilion on the current campus. Groundbreaking is expected in summer 2005 at a projected cost of between $60 million and $70 million. Financing includes a $10-million state grant, supplemented by private contributions, federal grants, internal funding, and bonds. Fox Chase receives more than $53 million a year in federal funding and grants.

More than 6,500 new patients a year visit the center, and Young expects that number to double by 2015. The 100-bed hospital is one of few facilities in the US devoted solely to cancer care. Last week Fox Chase researcher Irwin Rose received the 2004 Nobel Prize in chemistry, the second Nobel for a Fox Chase scientist.

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