Hospital to develop new fitness, health center

Thursday, November 13, 2003
This computer-generated image shows the pool that will be in the new HealthPoint Plaza inside the former Albertsons store.

A growing demand for health and fitness services and a bleak outlook for the future health of Missourians are the driving force behind Southeast Missouri Hospital's decision to open a new medically based fitness and rehabilitation center, HealthPoint Plaza.

At a news conference Wednesday, hospital administrator Jim Wente announced the acquisition of the former Albertsons building in Cape Girardeau and unveiled plans for HealthPoint Plaza, which will open in summer 2004.

About 80 people attended the conference inside the 57,560-square-foot building that has sat empty at the northeast corner of Independence and Kingshighway since April 2002, when the national grocery chain closed the store 13 months after it opened.

HealthPoint Plaza will house medical services in an 18,000-square-foot portion on the east side of the building and a 39,000-square-foot fitness center on the west side, said Frankie Erlacker, director of the hospital's Outpatient Rehabilitation Services in Cape Girardeau and Main Street Family Fitness Center in Jackson. The new project will also have community education facilities, a cafe and a fitness-oriented retail store.

While the hospital's Outpatient Rehabilitation Services will relocate from Doctors' Park to HealthPoint Plaza, the Jackson facility will remain open, Wente said.

High demand influenced the hospital board to purchase the Albertsons building. Main Street has about 1,000 members and Outpatient Rehabilitation Services records more than 1,700 patient visits a month.

Health Integration Partners, also of Grand Rapids, under the direction of G. Curt Meyer, is providing consultation services for start-up operations at HealthPoint Plaza. At the news conference, Meyer listed several medical concerns for residents: Missouri ranks 42nd in the nation for obesity, someone in the United States turns 50 every 30 seconds, and unless lifestyles change, one in three children born this year will develop diabetes. HealthPoint Plaza will tackle those issues by teaching healthier living, he said.

No piecemeal sales

Developer Jim Maevers said his investment partners, Bull's Eye Investment Group, got interested in the building in June when he found out it was up for sale. A handful of retailers had expressed interest in occupying portions of it, but Maevers said that was not considered the best use of the property.

Arby's restaurant bought a corner of the parking lot occupied by Albertsons former gas station. The restaurant is expected to open in late December.

Maevers contacted Wente in July about whether the hospital was interested in the building. After that conversation, Bull's Eye organized the purchase of the building in August with financing help from First National Bank in Cape Girardeau, Maevers said. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The public can expect to see progress on the project "almost immediately," Wente said.

Integrated Architecture of Grand Rapids, Mich., has designed the wellness center. It has mapped out similar facilities in Orlando and Kissimmee, Fla., and Cincinnati, Wente said.

This will be Health Integration Partners' 19th wellness center in the United States, representing more than 50,000 active members and 500,000 patient visits per year, Meyer said.

"The goal here is people can be introduced to helping themselves and this facility can be an important tool for that," Meyer said. "On the track that will surround the basketball court, you might see someone working on improving his 10-K run time, and right next to him, there might be a rehabilitation patient pulling a can of oxygen."

The pricing structure for membership at HealthPoint Plaza is currently being studied and will be announced in December, Wente said.

mwells@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 160

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