By Chris Rauber- San Francisco Business Times, July 26, 2013

And so it starts, not with a bang but with paperwork.

The City of Oakland is beginning the process of preparing a draft environmental impact report for Children’s Hospital and Research Center Oakland’s estimated $450 million master plan project, which initially includes building a six-story Outpatient Center and internal work in existing facilities.

Heather Klein, a City of Oakland planner, said July 26 that Children’s Hospital Oakland has submitted a request for an environmental review and related paperwork “to expand their existing medical services.” The city is now soliciting comments from the community and interested parties.

Comments are needed by Aug. 28, Klein said in a late Friday email.

Children’s Oakland officials weren’t available for comment late on a summer Friday afternoon. The hospital has preliminary plans for a $450 million rebuild project, but hasn’t outlined yet where the funding for the huge project would come from.

The city’s notice of participation indicated that Children’s Oakland has filed to build the six-story Outpatient Center as the centerpiece of Phase 1 of its master plan project, which is expected to revamp and expand the aging campus, ideally without causing undue consternation to neighbors who helped shoot down earlier rebuild plans at the private Oakland pediatric hospital.

In addition to the Outpatient Center, Phase 1 projects are expected to include some internal hospital renovations, construction of a new central utility plant near the southwest corner of the hospital’s property and reconfiguration of some of Children’s Oakland’s parking spaces, creating a net loss of 137 spaces during Phase 1.

During this part of the proposed project, the city document said, about 8,600 square feet of space will be demolished, roughly 97,000 square feet constructed and more than 86,000 square feet renovated. The work is expected to take 42 months, but no starting date is mentioned.

The July 26 city document was signed by Scott Miller, Oakland’s zoning manager and environmental review officer.

Children’s Oakland is engaged in preliminary affiliation talks with UCSF Medical Center, but UCSF acknowledged recently that those discussions have been progressing slower than expected, due to unexplained complexities and regulatory delays.

Dr. Bert Lubin is Children’s Oakland’s CEO, and is on the hot seat to find the funding and perhaps the deeper pocketed partner needed to make the rebuild a reality.

Ultimately, the hospital hopes to expand from 170 beds to 210 and to add nearly 300 parking spaces, according to the City of Oakland’s department of planning and building.