What happens when shopping malls lose tenants, and health care systems look for smart ways to expand services? According to the S/L/A/M Collaborative (SLAM), a national architecture firm with an office in Iowa City, the solution is for hospitals to purchase space within malls so the medical and retail sectors coexist together through “medtail” synergy. The […]
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What happens when shopping malls lose tenants, and health care systems look for smart ways to expand services? According to the S/L/A/M Collaborative (SLAM), a national architecture firm with an office in Iowa City, the solution is for hospitals to purchase space within malls so the medical and retail sectors coexist together through “medtail” synergy.
The architecture firm was the architect of record for a 350,000-square-foot University of Rochester Orthopedics & Physical Performance Center and the construction of a 140,000-square-foot outpatient clinical services building at The Marketplace Mall in Henrietta, New York. The Iowa City team was chosen for the project due to its expertise in the health care space after working on the Stead Family Children’s Hospital, Pediatric Specialty Clinic, and Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center with University of Iowa Health Care.
This type of partnership is a national and local trend that serves both the retail spaces and the hospitals, says Scott Hansche, principal-in-charge for the project.
“If you look at the Corridor, there are some medical spaces in our malls like UI Quick Cares, but those are 3,000 to 5,000 square feet,” he said. “Malls are in great locations with great access for shoppers so healthcare clients, instead of coming to a big, main campus…it makes a lot of sense to not have to go to a campus downtown.”
Other than the ease for visitors to take care of medical and shopping needs in one convenient location (and the ability to walk around and shop while a family member is in surgery, for example), hospitals gain access to a functional facility in a much quicker timeframe.
“These [developments] normally take anywhere from three to six years from the start of design and development to when they open the doors,” Mr. Hansche explained. “When you purchase an existing property, the infrastructure on the site is already there. The speed to market is really advantageous, especially when they need space five, six, eight years in advance.” He also noted the reduced costs related to this type of trend.
Shopping malls appreciate the health care additions as well, he said. With longtime tenants like Sears or JCPenney’s closing down locations, it leaves malls empty and without enough businesses. Adaptive reuse of malls can often cause a resurgence in foot traffic.
Before the University of Rochester purchased the property, occupancy at The Marketplace Mall was about 50%. Once the project is completed, occupancy is expected to increase to 90-95% capacity.
Mr. Hansche sees potential for this type of acquisition in the Corridor at a larger scale, noting that some clients see main malls like Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville as an excellent option.
“Because of online ordering and how retail square footage has decreased in some areas … I think this is an opportunity for physicians and medical providers to find space,” he said. “In Cedar Rapids, everything is down there in one area with St. Luke’s Hospital, Mercy Medical Center and the Physicians’ Clinic of Iowa. Some people may say, ‘well, could I just drive somewhere else where I don’t have to drive downtown and find a parking spot?’”
SLAM recently helped complete the master plan for the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics and has 10 to 15 active projects ongoing with UIHC today.