LIMA — The first phase in the remodeled American Mall may not be a store or restaurant, but it is just what the doctor ordered.
Equity Inc., a Columbus-based developer that specializes in medical facilities, has plans to build a 20,000-square-foot medical office building on the American Mall property, of which 10,000 square feet has already been claimed by tenants. The facility will sit north of the existing mall, facing Market Street. Construction is expected to begin in March.
Scott Forrest, Equity vice president, said the company will build and manage the facility, but individual physicians will buy interest in the project, making them the owners. Dr. Christopher Lucchese was one of the first to buy in with plans to move his practice into what will be called the Complete Health Institute of Northwest Ohio.
“If I want to invest in my future I want to make sure I have the greatest chance for success possible. This is a great opportunity for that,” Lucchese said.
Lucchese leases space in the offices attached to St. Rita’s Medical Center. Increased costs and the need to expand, along with a desire to be in control of his own practice, prompted the move.
“The way health care is you either have to be bought up by a hospital and be an employee or do what you can to be independent,” Lucchese said.
Lucchese said two other practices, an internist and a family physician, have also signed on to move into the new facility. Forrest was unable to provide the name of those doctors. The company is also looking for other medical specialists who want to invest. If it gets enough to fill the first building, it’ll start working on a second.
Eventually, Lucchese would like to see a complete health facility, including massage therapy, medically oriented workout facilities and even a café that would serve healthy lunch options.
“We’re shooting for as many specialties as we can find to make this a comprehensive facility,” Lucchese said.
The medical center would be the first phase of the long-promised change to the former American Mall. The mall’s owner, Cafaro Co., announced plans more than two years ago to redevelop the mall area into a lifestyle center similar to Easton Town Center in Columbus.
The company has since altered those plans. In November, a Cafaro executive said the new plan was for an open-concept property — renamed American Village — that would include multiple buildings, including the medical office building. The company has been in negotiations with local restaurant owners along with national retailers about moving in as well.
“We’ve had some interested parties that are waiting to commit to things. We’ve had the sense they were waiting for someone to go first, so this is a good start,” said Cafaro spokesman Joe Bell.
For Lucchese, the idea of mixing a medical and retail center makes perfect sense. An obstetrics practice located at Easton is doing great, and he believes he will see the same success in Lima.
“This puts the physician right in the center of the traffic. A patient can come in and their family can shop while they are waiting on them. In the end, it would have everything right there,” Lucchese said.
Physicians group to build at American Mall