City of Hope Receives $50M to Support Cancer Care Center to Open in Irvine in 2022

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Main News Photo

(Orange County Register)

The size of the gift Lennar Foundation just awarded City of Hope Orange County is eye-popping: $50 million. The gift will support the development of a $1 billion, 190,000-square-foot comprehensive cancer campus in Irvine.

Made public March 31, the money represents the biggest gift yet in the three-year-old effort by City of Hope to bring its expertise in fighting cancer to Orange County.

It’s also the second-largest donation in City of Hope’s 108-year history. The organization has been known for its hospital and research center in Duarte, but the move into Orange County is part of an expansion that will include a specialty hospital, two outpatient treatment centers, and a planned network of services that will be closer to home for Orange County patients.

Annette M. Walker, president of City of Hope Orange County, called Lennar Foundation’s donation a “gift to our children” because of the future possibilities it unlocks. Walker spoke on a conference call that included Jon Jaffe, co-chief executive officer and co-president of Miami-based homebuilder Lennar Corp., and City of Hope’s chief philanthropy officer, Kristin J. Bertell.

“The impact of this gift is going to be felt for generations,” Walker said.

Bertell said Lennar Foundation’s philanthropy follows a $100 million award to City of Hope made six weeks ago by its own research director, Dr. Arthur Riggs. Riggs has earned his wealth through pioneering work at City of Hope that includes development of the technology to create synthetic human insulin for diabetics. The research center in Duarte has been renamed the Arthur Riggs Diabetes & Metabolism Research Institute after the researcher, who has contributed more than $310 million over his three-decade tenure at City of Hope.

Walker and Bertell said the gift from Lennar will enhance the care provided to patients at the Orange County facilities and possibly spur other local donors to make their own stake in the Irvine project. Naming rights are in play: the 190,000-square-foot outpatient center set to open next year is now known as the Lennar Foundation Cancer Center.

City of Hope’s outpatient center in Newport Beach, which opened in January 2020, was the first piece in the cancer care provider’s planned $1 billion investment in Orange County.

Though Walker said it is too soon to say what specific cancer-related services will be supported by the $50 million donation, she termed it “transformational.”

“A gift of this magnitude is going to touch all parts of that cancer center.”

An unspecified portion of the money will go toward research and development of precision medicine to prevent, treat and cure cancer. Lennar is helping to launch a new partnership between City of Hope Orange County and Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami in Florida.

City of Hope officials believe the relationship with Miami-based Sylvester Center, which serves an economically and racially diverse population, will help researchers get a better understanding of the health care inequities in Orange County, including some that have been exposed by the pandemic.

“We’re excited to help bring about equality in health care,” said Jaffe, who lives in Orange County and was a 2004 recipient of City of Hope’s Spirit of Life award.

Jaffe suggested his company’s gift was made possible by its ongoing relationship with City of Hope and the partnership with Sylvester. He said Lennar made similar financial support to the University of Miami health care system.

“It was only a natural extension of our partnership for Lennar to step up,” said Jaffe, whose Lennar Corp. office in Irvine is in a building next to the cancer treatment center, all part of the FivePoint Gateway campus near the Great Park.

City of Hope Orange County Lennar Foundation Cancer Center renderingCity of Hope Orange County has set a goal of raising $300 million by 2025 when the hospital is expected to open. Bertell declined to disclose how much of that money is in hand, but said contributions so far have come from about 12,000 donors and that overall fundraising will beat the stated goal.

“We’re very confident we are going to blow that $300 million away,” Bertell said.

Another gift in the range of the amount contributed by Lennar Foundation could include naming rights for the cancer-centric hospital that will be adjacent to the Irvine outpatient center. Walker said conversations with potential donors have turned more “serious and significant” as construction in Irvine has advanced enough for City of Hope Orange County to show what’s underway.

“We believe the gift from Lennar will inspire all the people we’ve been talking to.”

City of Hope Orange County is the diamond-level Leaders Circle partner of the Greater Irvine Chamber.

Category: Partner News, health care, Economic Development, Leaders Circle, Greater Irvine Chamber, City of Hope