The Beach Cities Health District is gearing up to unveil plans for a long-envisioned revamp of its 11-acre campus in Redondo Beach.
Next month, residents of the South Bay beach cities will get a virtual, 3D glimpse of conceptual plans to make over the Prospect Avenue campus with a senior living facility with up to 400 units and much-needed infrastructure upgrades to the district’s aging four-story medical building.
A parking structure at the corner of Beryl Street and Flagler Lane would replace acres of surface parking, freeing up space for outdoor group activities and pedestrian and bike paths. A community gym would be expanded to the ground floor of the parking structure.
A 5:30 p.m. open house Oct. 17 at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center will be the first formal, communitywide presentation of the “Healthy Living Campus” to the public, though discussions about the project began nearly a decade ago, said Beach Cities Health District CEO Tom Bakaly.
The preventive health agency is shifting its focus from its successful Blue Zones wellness campaign to the campus transformation with the insight of a 20-member community-based working group.
Hub of wellness
“One of the things I’ve heard from the board and the community in my first year is they want the campus to reflect who we are,” said Bakaly, who left his job as city manager of Hermosa Beach to lead the public health agency nearly one year ago.
Formed 62 years ago to build and operate the former South Bay Hospital, the special district today leases space to medical offices and uses interest from its multimillion-dollar investment portfolio for community health programs serving residents of Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach.
The idea guiding the campus makeover, Bakaly said, is to turn it into a hub of wellness catering to the beach cities’ growing senior population, which is expected to soon surpass 15,000 people.
“We’ve done a market-needs assessment and one of the things we’re seeing is a three-year wait list for assisted- and independent-living in the beach cities area,” he said. “Through our surveys, 94 percent of people said they wanted to stay in the beach community.”
The market study found the need for up to 400 units, but Bakaly said an exact number and the ratio of independent vs. assisted-living units hasn’t been set. Nor has an overall project price tag, though one early estimate was $100 million.
Whatever the final figure, the district is expected to save 20 percent thanks to a bill from South Bay Assemblymember Al Muratsuchi that recently passed in the state Legislature. The bill will allow the agency to streamline the process by awarding design and construction to one contractor.
It is now waiting to be signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Formal plans will be submitted to the city of Redondo Beach later this year and will be followed by an extensive outreach process.
Dense housing developments have sparked outcry in south Redondo Beach in recent years. Last week, city leaders extended a ban on mixed-use projects that have raised traffic concerns.
But Bakaly said he actually anticipates the site needing less parking in the future. Officials want to potentially be able to convert the future parking structure for another use.
“What we’re interested in doing,” Bakaly said, “is creating a place where older adults can age in place and have access to primary care, preventative health, social networks, the center for health and fitness and have that all in one place.”