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Signs of progress for hospital project
August 20, 2012, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal Staff

Call it signs of progress.

Three months after the Palo Alto Medical Foundation broke ground on the San Carlos site of its future clinic, the medical group is asking the city to approve permanent and temporary signs.

While the signs are not as significant a project milestone as, say, getting the walls up for the clinic and parking structure at 301 Industrial Road, the signs are a step toward getting long-awaited construction off the ground.

The request coming before the San Carlos Planning Commission seeks a total of 27 permanent freeway-oriented and directional signs and a use permit for 1,888 square feet of temporary construction signs.

The proposed signs add "a thematic and high quality aspect” to the project because the materials and design include stone that matches the buildings and bronze accents that match the window elements, according to the staff report by Assistant Planner Gavin Moynahan.

 The temporary signs will include the PAMF name and "coming soon” or "future site of.” They must be removed within 30 days of the hospital’s opening.

Construction will happen in two phases, with the first outpatient medical clinic and parking structure anticipated to take approximately two years to complete.

The plan for a new medical center began more than a decade ago and the city approved the project in 2007 with hopes of completion in 2012. In March 2009, however, Sutter Health put several capital projects including the San Carlos Center on hold because of the economy. In November 2010, the Sutter Health Board of Directors gave the green light to start again. Some cleanup efforts of the site — home of a former microwave tube manufacturer — were done even as the project was paused but more work began last January on the 18.1-acre parcel. In April, the project got the final go-ahead when the state water board found the environmental remediation requirements properly met. A month later, the project broke ground.

When finished, the 192,260-square-foot San Carlos Center will include an urgent-care center, 75 primary physicians and specialists with the capacity to increase to 120, an on-site laboratory and pharmacy, space for outpatient surgery and a cafe.

Hospital officials have estimated the first phase will cost approximately $210 million.

In contrast, the original plan by PAMF for San Carlos was a $550 million complex involving a 110-bed hospital, outpatient clinic and medical offices and 1,000-space parking garage. In 2007, the blueprint dropped to a 91-bed hospital with 120 on-site doctors and 826 other staffers instead of 1,137.

The San Carlos Planning Commission meets 7 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20 at City Hall, 600 Elm St., San Carlos.

Michelle Durand can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102.

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