Almost six years since the 615 Peachtree building at the intersection of Peachtree Street and North Avenue was imploded, a $225 million, 100,000 square-foot cancer-treating proton facility looks to make south Midtown its home.
Co-operated by Emory Healthcare, the Georgia Proton Treatment Center - Georgia’s first proton therapy facility and one of only a handful in the U.S. – will be owned by Nevada-based Advanced Particle Therapy (APT).
Once operational, the center will be staffed by approximately 110 proton therapy-trained professionals including radiation oncologists, medical physicists, radiation therapists, medical support and administrative staff. The center will treat approximately 1,900 patients annually.
In May 2011, Emory signed a letter of intent with ATP opening the door to begin seeking a location for the facility that would bring the world’s most advanced radiation treatment for cancer patients to the state.
In April, the Cousins Properties-owned 2.39-acre grassy site was placed under contract and now an application to construct the new medical facility has been filed with the Midtown Development Review Committee (DRC), which Patch has learned is expected to hear the application and see the plans next week.
The property, bounded by Peachtree, North, Ponce de Leon Avenue and Juniper Street, was the longtime home of 615 Peachtree. But the 12-story building, originally built for First National Bank of Atlanta and later purchased by Wachovia, was felled by explosives in September 2006 (see here for video of the implosion).
It was done so to make way for the Cousins-inspired mega development called Fox Plaza that was to include two condo towers, including a 30-story residential high-rise facing Ponce. But like many grandiose developments conceived in the mid-2000s, it died as the economy went into recession.
For certain cancers, proton therapy offers a more precise and aggressive approach to destroying cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, as compared to conventional X-ray radiation. Proton therapy involves the use of a controlled beam of protons to target tumors with precision unavailable in other radiation therapies.
According to The National Association for Proton Therapy, the precise delivery of proton energy may limit damage to healthy surrounding tissue, potentially resulting in lower side effects to the patient. This precision also allows for a more effective dose of radiation to be used.
Proton therapy is frequently used in the care of children diagnosed with cancer, as well as in adults who have small, well-defined tumors in organs such as the prostate, brain, head, neck, bladder, lungs, or the spine. According to the National Cancer Institute, research continues into its efficacy in additional cancers.
The closest proton therapy facility to Georgia is the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville.
“Emory will play a leading role in bringing this highly advanced cancer therapy to Georgia,” Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, executive director of the Winship Cancer Institute and chair of Emory’s Department of Radiation Oncology, said in a 2011 statement. “This is an exciting development in our ability to offer patients the widest possible array of treatment options. In addition, we will work to expand its utility and access for patients through collaborative research projects with Georgia Tech and other institutions. Winship physicians will also provide direction to their international colleagues in how best to study and implement this technology in the care of cancer patients.”
The proton therapy center will have five treatment rooms and dedicated research capabilities. The FDA-approved proton system will be provided by Varian Medical Systems, a world-wide provider of proton therapy and radiation oncology equipment.
Under the letter of intent, Emory Healthcare faculty and staff will provide physician services, medical direction, and other administrative services to the center. APT, through a Special Purpose Company, Georgia Proton Treatment Center, LLC, (GPTC) will design, build, equip and own the center.
South Midtown could be seeing a boom in construction as the DRC has also received an application for a 285-apartment building to be constructed at 131 Ponce, which is across the street from the planned cancer-treating proton facility.