OAKLAND, Calif., April 8, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- The 11-story hospital building at the former Oak Knoll U.S. Naval Medical Center in Oakland was imploded today with synchronized explosions that collapsed the concrete and steel structure into a pile of rubble in approximately 10 seconds. The hospital had stood since 1968 and was the last of over 100 former Navy buildings that were demolished over the past two years at the base that closed in 1996.
The development firm SunCal is managing the cleanup of the 167-acre site on behalf of a court-appointed bankruptcy trustee. Lehman Brothers was both the financial partner and lender for the business entity that owns the property, but Lehman collapsed in September 2008 and entered bankruptcy. SunCal itself is not in bankruptcy and continues to do business.
"The demolition of the last Navy structure at Oak Knoll marks the end of a significant chapter in this property's history," said Pat Keliher of SunCal. "Oak Knoll opened in 1942 to treat wounded American military personnel in World War II, and it continued to help others in the Korean and Vietnam wars as well. This base and its personnel proudly served our country for 54 years."
Lead and asbestos materials were removed from the hospital and all buildings during an earlier work phase, and the concrete and steel are being recycled. Earlier this year, the warehouse and bachelor enlisted quarters were demolished.
SunCal began the general cleanup, weed abatement and demolition of numerous wooden outbuildings in 2009, and that work has been completed. In January 2011, the presiding judge in Lehman's bankruptcy approved the release of $1.7 million to complete additional demolition work, including the hospital building.
SunCal's efforts to obtain funding to address the critical needs at Oak Knoll have been ongoing throughout the current bankruptcy court proceedings and extend back to Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy in September 2008. SunCal initiated legal action against Lehman in November 2008, and the Oakland City Attorney followed SunCal's lead a year later with its own suit against Lehman in federal court.
SunCal is continuing to work through the court to bring in a new source of funding to resolve the property's remaining issues and move the development forward. The plans for the Oak Knoll master-planned community include 960 homes with a diversity of housing types; 82,000 square feet of commercial/retail; 50 acres of parks and open space; and the restoration of Rifle Creek that runs through the property.