- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Inova Health System yesterday said it would build a 500,000-square-foot research facility south of Leesburg, Va., to develop high-technology medical treatments.

The Falls Church company plans to assemble an international group of scientists at the center to conduct research in genomics and medical automation, and to develop individualized treatment technologies.

“We believe Loudoun County could become a hub for the advancement of the medical sciences and technology,” said J. Knox Singleton, Inova Health System chief executive officer.

The new facility, called “LIFE Center,” for Leadership and Innovation in the Future of Excellence, is the latest example of Inova’s expanding presence in Northern Virginia’s health care industry.

Last month, Inova announced that it would acquire Prince William Hospital in Manassas, which would bring to six the number of Northern Virginia hospitals the health care company operates. Two years ago, Inova bought Loudoun Hospital.

Inova Health System is a not-for-profit health care organization that consists of hospitals and other health care services, such as emergency and urgent care centers, home care, nursing homes, mental health care and blood donor services.

The planned LIFE Center is unlikely to be Inova’s final expansion in rapidly growing Loudoun County.

“There’s still enough property to work with there,” said Tony Raker, Inova Loudoun Hospital spokesman.

Other parts of Northern Virginia are overrun with development, he said, but “the flexibility is in Loudoun County.”

The LIFE Center will be the anchor of a larger development called Ridgewater Park that will cover at least 772 acres of surrounding land with residences, offices, retail and schools.

Lansdowne Development Group, the real estate development company, estimates the total value of the project at $1 billion.

The company is donating the land for the LIFE Center, which is scheduled to be built on a campuslike setting around the intersection of the Dulles Greenway and Sycolin Road less than a mile from Leesburg.

The 94-acre site covers enough property for the LIFE Center to be expanded to 700,000 square feet. Scientists who will work at the center are helping with the design.

“I think it’s a good seed for the rest of the project,” said Leonard S. “Hobie” Mitchel, chief executive officer of Lansdowne Development Group. “We’ll have some other development that goes with it.”

Lansdowne Development Group helped with the Inova Loudoun Hospital expansion last year.

Ridgewater Park is a scaled-down version of Creekside, a project announced in 2004 that was supposed to be a joint venture among Lansdowne Development Group, Loudoun County and other developers.

The deal collapsed when the county and developers failed to agree on a land swap for regional roads.

“I think it was probably too early,” Mr. Mitchel said. “It’s less than half of what it was.”

Loudoun County Economic Development Department officials said they were encouraged by the announcement yesterday but had little information about it.

Inova had no estimate of the cost of the LIFE Center or the number of people it would employ.

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