Wednesday, July 31, 2013

$250M NY Proton Center to be Built on East Harlem Site

It isn't easy to find a location in Manhattan for cancer-fighting equipment so huge that it takes an entire city block to house it. After years of planning, Manhattan's proton beam consortium has finally found just the spot for their $250 million proton beam therapy center. The New York Proton Center will soon be ready to break ground on an entire city-owned vacant block between East 126th and East 127th streets in East Harlem. The 241,000-square-foot structure is slated open at the end of 2016

The building requirements for proton beams are complex, given the mammoth size and weight of the equipment involved: four mobile gantries, a fixed-beam unit and special radiation shielding.

The focused beam needs a rectangle of about 40,000 square feet, so that the protons can run in a straight line to better treat patients. To protect the treatment area, the building must be enclosed in a massive cast of concrete.

The New York Proton Center is backed by some of New York's foremost cancer centers. The hospital consortium consists of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Beth Israel Medical Center, NYU Langone Medical Center, Montefiore Medical Center and Mount Sinai Hospital.

The project is being developed and managed by Florida-based 21st Century Oncology. The hospitals hope to collaborate on research and collectively treat 1,500 patients annually.

Presently, cancer patients have to travel to Philadelphia or Boston for the increasingly popular proton therapy treatment.

Proton beam technology allows radiation to be emitted in precisely focused cancer-killing doses. It is used most commonly to treat prostate cancer and tumors whose treatment with other methods would threaten nearby healthy tissues and organs. But finding a home for the proton beam center has proved challenging.

Originally, the consortium focused its efforts on 621 W. 57th Street, with construction slated to begin in February 2011 and the center ready for patients in early 2014.

At the time, the building was conceptualized as having 11,670 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, a two-level underground garage and two levels of medical office space.