The Smilow Cancer Center at Yale-New Haven Hospital moved one more step towards reality on Wednesday, when the City Plan Commission unanimously approved the site plan for the garage on the Lot E site.

The 845-parking garage was at the center of negotiations completed last fall. Arbitration ended in early October as the hospital agreed to include 24 units of market-priced housing.

The housing will be offered to patients undergoing treatment who do not need hospitalization and their families, as well as staff members on a temporary basis.

Although more expensive for the hospital, the housing was important for city officials who wanted to avoid having the center isolated from the rest of the community.

Retail shops will also surround the mixed-use garage.

There were no problems expected with approval this week, and it signifies an important step in an oft-delayed process.

The $470 million cancer center began construction almost a year and a half ago. Besides the garage, a new medical lab on Park Street accompanies the development of the cancer center.

The cancer center, which will be one of the premier such centers in the country, is expected to open in 2009.