WALNUT CREEK — Children's Hospital Oakland will open a specialty treatment center in Shadelands Business Park in Walnut Creek, which has evolved into a hub for life science and medical firms.

Services expected to be available for children at the medical facility may include an imaging center and a physical therapy facility.

Children's plans to open the center in 21,000 square feet of leased space at 2401 Shadelands Drive in early 2009.

"There is a whole new trend for hospitals in general to establish smaller operations in areas that are away from the main hospital," said Ed Del Beccaro, a senior managing partner at Colliers International. "A lot of the hospital groups are creating these facilities away from the main hospital."

Oakland-based Children's Hospital was eager to find a location in that vicinity, Del Beccaro said.

"They wanted a very visible location in a city like Walnut Creek," he said.

A number of players in the Bay Area health care industry began opening operations in the Shadelands area more than a decade ago. Kaiser Permanente opened a medical services facility in 1992. The business park contains an orthopedic center. The Joint Genome Institute expanded in 2007.

"We will be bringing in a regionally recognized medical name to the Shadelands," said Brandon Farrell, a vice president with Hall Equities Group, the developer that owns the 71,000-square-foot complex that Children's Hospital will occupy.

The deal underscores how the Shadelands, an office park near Walnut Creek's eastern boundary, has turned into a hotbed for medical, technical and life sciences users lately.

"This is one more example of the attractiveness the area has for medical users," said Breck Lutz, senior vice president at Cornish & Carey Commercial.

"There also are other medical users out there who are looking in the Shadelands," Lutz added. "There is definitely additional medical interest out there."

Property investors have become more interested in the park as a result. The developers have snapped up office buildings in the park and marketed them to medical users. In one instance, a partnership of medical professionals bought an office building and filled it with a cosmetic and aesthetic surgery practice, a surgery center and a urology practice.

One developer is planning a five-building complex totaling 137,000 square feet that would rise on an empty 12-acre parcel. Medical users would be the target customers for that project. A few blocks away, John Muir Hospital has bought vacant land.

The Children's Hospital lease in the Shadelands leaves 50,000 square feet of space that is still on the market. Farrell said the remainder of the building will be filled with a mix of medical and office users.

"The Children's deal gives us a vote of confidence that this is the right place for this kind of a use," Farrell said.

George Avalos covers jobs, economic development, commercial real estate, finance and petroleum. Contact at 925-977-8477 or gavalos@bayareanewsgroup.com.