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Medical School to Build $300M Research Facility

By Eugenia V. Levenson, Contributing Writer

In order to meet increasing demands for research facilities, Harvard Medical School is planning to construct a $250 to $300 million research complex in the Longwood Medical Area, Medical School officials said yesterday.

The proposed facility would include biomedical laboratories as well as animal breeding and research facilities. Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2000 or early 2001.

A lack of sufficient research facilities prompted "an expansion of existing biomedical research laboratories that will promote a wide-ranging program of biomedical research," according to Eric P. Buehrens, associate dean of planning and facilities at the Medical School.

The Medical School will pay for the construction of the complex, but it expects to recover the costs by leasing out space to affiliated teaching hospitals as well as through funds from research grants.

Plans for a new facility were first discussed 10 months ago at a meeting between Medical School officials and Harvard's 17 affiliated teaching hospitals, said Paul Levy, executive dean of administration at the Medical School.

"This was a vision from a long time ago, " Levy said, "but now there is a demand for research space."

Levy said Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Center for Blood Research, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children's Hospital were among some affliated institutions looking to benefit from the new research facilities.

Several other building projects in the area are scheduled to begin soon, including the construction of two Children's Hospital facilities totaling $160 million. This project has raised concerns among community members about congestion and parking in the neighborhood.

The affiliated hospitals' various projects and this new complex are expected to take seven years to build; the combined total cost is expected to mushroom to $800 million.

Preliminary plans for the Medical School's facility, which were drawn up by the firm Payette Associates, are aimed at adding to the neighborhood by "appearing attractive from the street," Levy said.

Members of the surrounding neighborhood offered their initial reactions to the proposal at a public meeting held Monday.

"The community has concerns about the density of development," Beuhrens said. "There are issues like traffic and parking, but I am confident that we can address these issues."

Although the University owns the land on which the complex will be built, the Medical School still needs to get a city permit from the Boston Redevelopment Authority, according to Levy. The authority said it has not yet received a permit application, and declined to comment.

Buehrens said the permit will be filed soon, and that he expects it to be approved within 8 weeks. Levy said that the authority was informally told about plans for the building's size and appearance during the planning process.

The Medical School plans to schedule more meetings with community members to discuss development plans.

The facility will be located near the Harvard Institutes of Medicine between Louis Pasteur Avenue and Blackfan Street.

--Wire reports were used in the compilation of this article.

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