Contact: Joe Vargo, Perris Public Information Officer
Phone: 951-956-2120
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March LifeCare Illustrates How Redevelopment Spurs Growth

Willie Brown, former Speaker of the California Assembly, addresses the crowd who came to see the demolition of the former March Air Force Base hospital. “This is the sort of program that represents the way healthcare should be delivered.
Willie Brown, former Speaker of the California Assembly, addresses the crowd who came to see the demolition of the former March Air Force Base hospital. “This is the sort of program that represents the way healthcare should be delivered."

The transformation of an abandoned section of the former March Air Force Base into the state-of-the-art March LifeCare Campus is  the perfect use of redevelopment money to spur new economic growth.

That was the message conveyed Monday by Willie Brown, former Speaker of the California Assembly and Mayor of San Francisco, to an audience who gathered to witness the demolition of the old military hospital that had served the veteran community for decades.

With the old hospital gone, work can begin on the infrastructure on a 236-acre, 6 million-square-foot “March LifeCare Campus” that will provide neonatal care, ambulatory care facilities, medical office buildings, skilled nursing centers, assisted living quarters and hospice care.

When completed, the complex  is expected to provide up to 7,500 jobs and pump up to $3 billion into the Inland Area’s economy.

The  wrecking ball comes crashing down on the old base hospital.
The  wrecking ball comes crashing down on the old base hospital.

Brown addressed his redevelopment remarks to more than 100 elected officials, community leaders, business owners and medical professionals who gathered to watch a wrecking ball smash the old 722nd Medical Group Hospital, which served as the March base hospital for thousands of active duty troops, reservists and their families.
Redevelopment agencies throughout the state are under attack by Gov. Jerry Brown, who wants to eliminate them to help close a $26 billion budget gap.

The March Joint Powers Authority, made up of representatives from Perris, Moreno Valley, Riverside and the County of Riverside, is working to redevelop now unused portions of March Air Reserve Base, which was downsized from an active duty Air Force Base in 1996.

Brown praised such efforts, which he said are helping revitalize a region hard-hit when March was downsized. He paid big kudos to the project developer, March LifeCare Development, for working with an assortment of medical professionals, patient advocates and the JPA for bringing the campus to reality.

Perris Mayor Pro-Tem Joanne Evans with former Speaker Willie Brown
Perris Mayor Pro-Tem Joanne Evans with former Speaker Willie Brown.

“This is the sort of program that represents the way health-care should be delivered,” he told the audience, who broke out in clapping. “Send the message of your vision for the next 20 years to the White House and to Gov. Brown.”

Brown then added that he does not believe “redevelopment is going away.”

Without redevelopment, the March LifeCare Campus could not take shape.

“Let’s not kill the (redevelopment agencies) that are productive,” Brown said. “Let’s not kill the ones that work.”
Brown’s sentiments about redevelopment were echoed by Joel Ayala, director of the Governor’s Office on Economic Development.

“In my humble opinion, this project is a good and appropriate use of redevelopment funds,” Ayala said.
He added further that the March LifeCare Campus represents a “global model” for public-private partnerships that will “help restore the eighth largest economy in the world.”

Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley addresses the crowd of more than 100 dignitaries. March LifeCare, Ashley says, “is a game-changer.”
Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley addresses the crowd of more than 100 dignitaries. March LifeCare, Ashley says, “is a game-changer."

Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley, a Perris resident, said the March LifeCare Campus will focus on “research, education and training.” The medical campus will work with area colleges and universities to provide dental technicians, physician’s assistants and other medical professionals.

“This redevelopment project is benefitting us and changing the landscape of this entire region,” Ashley said. “It is truly a game-changer.”

Perris Mayor Pro-Tem Joanne Evans, a member of the March LifeCare Campus Veterans Advisory Committee, said Monday’s demolition of the old base hospital proved emotional. She said her children had spent their early years receiving treatment there.

“This demolition is not the end, it is a rebirth,” Evans said. “A brand new, state-of-the-art facility will rise here and provide many veterans and other people with outstanding health care. This is a great day for Perris and the Inland Empire.”

Perris City Councilman Mark Yarbrough predicted the March LifeCare Campus will grow into one of the largest economic engines in the Inland Empire and possibly the entire state. The demolition of the base hospital signals the end of deconstruction, Yarbrough said. Now reconstruction will begin. Yarbrough said he was heartened by the support for redevelopment expressed by Brown and Ayala.

“Without redevelopment, this project plain and simple would not be happening,” he said.