LANCASTER — The City Council approved the Lancaster Health District master plan, final environmental impact report, and General Plan amendment at Tuesday night’s meeting.
The Council also introduced an ordinance amending the City’s zoning plan for the 272.4-acre plan area. The general plan designation for the area will be changed to mixed-use, and the zoning changed to mixed-use health district.
The vote was 3-0. Mayor R. Rex Parris and Councilman Ken Mann recused themselves because they own property near the project area. Councilman Raj Malhi also owns property near the project area. He participated in the vote as a result of the rule of necessity, however.
The Lancaster Health District plan area is generally bounded by Avenue J to the north, Avenue J-12 to the south, 20th Street West to the west, and 12th Street West to the east. The master plan allows for development of the plan area over the next 20 years.
The project allows for the replacement of the existing Antelope Valley Hospital with a new 700,000 square-foot hospital and 12,000 square-foot plant facility. The proposed projects also include acute and sub-acute care facilities, continuum of care facility, office buildings including medical and commercial, and a 180-room hotel and associated conference center, as well as a 1,100-space parking garage.
The master plan does not approve any specific developments. The plan divides the plan area into three sub-districts — the District Core, District General, and District Edge — each with its own zoning designation.
The District Core zone, in the central portion of the Central District, places an emphasis on medical and office uses. This would also be the location of the new hospital and associated care facilities. The area also allows for residential, commercial and civic uses. It could also include the hotel and conference center.
The District General zone surrounds the District Core and promotes an active mix of residential and retail uses. The District Edge zone would provide a buffer between the more intense development west of 15th Street West and the residential uses to the east of the plan area.
As part of the project the City will also install a comprehensive network of street improvements throughout the plan area.
The first development to take place would be replacing the 66-year-old Antelope Valley Hospital, which does not meet California’s earthquake safety standards.
“This represents an approximately $600 million investment by Antelope Valley Healthcare District,” Chenin Dow, senior manager for Real Estate & Economic Development, said during a presentation at the meeting.
Dow said hospital officials expect to break ground next year, with a projected completion date of 2026.
It is not clear how the AV Healthcare District will pay for the new facility after the failure in March 2020 of a $350 million bond measure to replace the existing hospital.
A hospital spokesperson was unable to confirm information presented at the meeting.