Heartland health center poised for major expansion on Sixth Street; longtime business plans to buy former events venue

photo by: Photo courtesy of Dobski & Associates

Heartland Community Health Center plans to renovate and move into the space currently occupied by Anderson Rentals at the intersection of Sixth and Michigan streets.

Power tools and health care aren’t commonly paired together, unless doctors are trying to explain what they’ll do to my arteries if I don’t cut down on the sweets. But I’ve got a story that legitimately pairs them today. One of Lawrence’s largest tool and equipment rental companies is leaving its longtime home to make way for a major expansion of a nonprofit health care provider.

Heartland Community Health Center has announced it has reached a deal to take over the space occupied by Anderson Rentals at 1312 W. Sixth St. Anderson Rentals has also confirmed to me that it is close to finalizing a deal to purchase the old Knights of Columbus building on East 23rd Street to house the equipment rental business.

I’ve got a call into Heartland to get more details about the project, but in talking with the property’s owner, he said the plans are to keep the existing 17,000-square-foot building and completely rehabilitate it.

“I think it is going to be great for the community and great for Heartland,” said Tom Dobski, whose family owns the area McDonald’s franchise and about five years ago purchased the property where Anderson Rentals is located. “I think it really will give them what they want.”

Anderson Rentals, Inc

In case you have forgotten, Heartland is nonprofit health care provider that historically has played a big role in providing health care to uninsured and low income residents. It has a clinic in the space that formerly was occupied by fellow nonprofit Health Care Access at 346 Maine St. That’s a relatively small space, and the move is expected to give Heartland more room to provide services.

“This is a wonderful investment that will allow Heartland to expand its reach and increase access to health services,” Heartland CEO Robyn Coventon said in a press release.

Construction work is expected to begin in the fall, with a target move-in date of fall 2021.

The new center also is expected to help Heartland highlight its broadening mission. The nonprofit has been touting that its services are not only for low income residents or people without insurance. The new location will put the clinic in a much more visible spot than its current location, which is kind of on the backside of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. Before that, the clinic was in the basement of the former Riverfront Mall in downtown.

The organization is hoping to use the new clinic to help people understand that they can support the mission of providing health care to the uninsured.

“A patient who uses their health insurance at Heartland helps to keep costs low for everyone,” Coventon said in the press release. “This new facility will allow Heartland the physical space to be the provider of choice for our community.”

Financial details of the project — such as whether Heartland will be launching a major capital campaign to complete the project — weren’t immediately clear. But the Heartland press release thanked the Dobski family for the investment it had made in the project.

“We are overwhelmed and full of gratitude by the investment from the Dobski family to support our mission to provide health care for all,” Coventon said. “We are confident that this investment will greatly impact how health care is delivered and accessed in our community.”

As for Anderson Rentals, co-owner Bill Anderson said he was excited about the changes. His family business celebrated its 74th anniversary earlier this month. He said the company decided to find new space as a new group of Andersons — his nephew and niece, Andy and Katherine Anderson — move into larger roles with the company.

“We are excited that we have a third generation coming into the business,” said Bill, who owns the business with his sister, Mary Anderson.

He said the former Knights of Columbus location, which is basically at the northwest corner of 23rd Street and O’Connell Road, would be a bit smaller than the current location. The property is next door to the city’s VenturePark industrial area, and across the street from a new residential area that is developing southeast of O’Connell Road.

“We feel like it is in a growth corridor, and lots of people in town have been to that location at one time or another,” Bill said, alluding to the building’s past as both a social club and venue that frequently hosted community events.

He said his company’s plans are to buy the building and renovate it, but he hasn’t yet completed the deal and received the necessary city approvals. He said he hopes to have the project completed by the end of the year.

2206 E 23rd St, Lawrence, KS 66046


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