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Developer buys St. Luke hospital

October 23, 2007|Roger Vincent | Times Staff Writer

The shuttered St. Luke Medical Center, a northeast Pasadena landmark, has been sold by the California Institute of Technology to a Beverly Hills developer, the university announced Monday.

DS Ventures' plans for the 13.4-acre site on Washington Boulevard at the Altadena border have not been revealed, but some neighbors are pressing for an emergency medical facility to be included.

St. Luke opened in 1933 and served generations of Pasadena and Altadena residents before closing in 2002. Caltech bought the property the year after with the intention of turning it into a research satellite serving the main Pasadena campus.

Details of the transaction were not disclosed, but local real estate observers who asked not to be identified because negotiations were confidential said Caltech paid less than $20 million for the property and sold it in the mid-$40-million range.

The original seven-story former hospital building and a convent and chapel added in 1947 are official city landmarks and must be preserved. A separate two-story medical office building that is fully occupied will continue to operate.

Caltech researchers working on a telescope program will stay on as tenants. The school sold the property because it was too costly to improve and inconveniently distant from the main campus, said Dean Currie, a Caltech vice president.

DS Ventures, which develops residential, office and retail space, did not respond to requests for comment. Cushman & Wakefield Inc. real estate broker Marc Renard, who with Carl Muhlstein represented Caltech, said the buyer was attracted to the site's potential for future development but had no firm plans.

"Now they'll determine what use makes the most sense that the city would approve and homeowners would also find appealing," Renard said. One potential use is medical offices, because demand is so strong in the area that only 2.4% of medical space is vacant, he said.

Plans should incorporate an urgent care facility, said Altadena resident Irma Strantz, who is part of Emergency Care Now. The citizen group contends that existing hospital emergency rooms are too far away.

"It was a major loss not to have a hospital in this geographic area," she said.

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roger.vincent@latimes.com

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