With apartment construction booming nearby, LMH decides to open medical office on south Iowa Street

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

LMH Health has reached a deal to take the vacant space in the former Pier 1 building on south Iowa Street to house a new primary care doctor's office.

A Pier 1 wicker chair has been known to create its share of medical issues. (Take your after-dinner nap in a wicker chair at your own risk.) So, maybe it isn’t such an odd twist that the former Pier 1 retail building on south Iowa Street is set to become a doctor’s office.

Leaders with LMH Health have confirmed they’ve finalized a lease that will allow the hospital to put a primary care physician’s office in the space. If you are confused about the location, it is the building at 3211 Iowa St., which is one of the spaces in front of Target.

Russ Johnson, president and CEO of LMH Health, said LMH has been seeking a more southern presence for a primary care doctor’s office. Plus, Johnson has stressed the need for doctor’s offices to be more convenient, so he decided to go looking in an area traditionally reserved for retail.

“We feel like that is very close to an ideal location,” Johnson said.

The property has high visibility from busy Iowa Street, but it also is near a ton of new apartments. It is just a couple of blocks away from The Collegiate at Lawrence, which is an approximately $30 million project that is adding about 780 bedrooms to the rental market in south Lawrence. The project is right behind the Walmart at 33rd and Iowa streets.

“There is really very little primary care serving what is a real growing area of the community,” Johnson said at an LMH board meeting on Wednesday. “There are a lot of multifamily apartments that could be better served with a little more convenience.”

LMH hasn’t determined which doctor will locate in the new space, said Janice Early, vice president of marketing and communication for LMH. But she said LMH was committed to putting a primary care doctor — a traditional doctor that provides care for a wide range of ailments for both adults and children — at the location. She also said the location would likely have some extended hours.

A south Lawrence doctor’s office has become a higher priority for LMH because plans do call for the Mt. Oread Family Practice to leave its location at LMH South, which is located at Clinton Parkway and Kasold Drive, once LMH completes a new outpatient center near Rock Chalk Park next year. In fact, LMH plans to move all of its medical offices at LMH South to the new outpatient center in west Lawrence. LMH South would close probably by early 2021, Johnson told board members.

There is a chance that the new south Iowa Street location may be able to house more than just a primary care doctor, Early said. LMH is leasing about 6,900 square feet in the building, which also is home to a Sprint phone store. Early said physical therapy or an occupational health practice also were possibilities.

Early stressed that plans for the facility, beyond the primary care component, were still in flux. She said a timeline to open the doctor’s office hadn’t been determined.

The south Iowa office will be in addition to a new eastern Lawrence office that LMH is working to complete. As we reported in September, LMH struck a deal to open a primary care doctor’s office in a portion of the space occupied by Independence Inc. near 20th Street and Haskell Avenue. LMH leaders had said they hoped to open LMH Health East Heights Family Care in early 2019. Early said she did not have a more specific timeline for the project, noting that construction has begun.

“That is still definitely happening,” she said. “We are full steam ahead on that project.”


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