An abandoned, overgrown property at a major Whiteland intersection will be home to five or six doctors by the end of next year.
Johnson Memorial Health purchased the 1.8-acre lot this week, with plans to build a 10,000-square-foot medical office on the space, said Steve Jarosinski, the hospital’s chief strategy officer.
The property, which used to be home to a grocery store, has been empty for more than a decade. Residents and the town have raised concerns about weeds poking up through the parking lot, dilapidated awnings and rotted wood paneling. The building has been called an eyesore and a key spot Whiteland residents want to beautify, according a survey distributed last year.
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Earlier this year, a chain restaurant considered building on the lot but decided to move up the road into New Whiteland. In October, the town confirmed that a medical company was considering purchasing the property but would not say which organization was interested.
Hospital officials first talked to real estate company Allen Commercial Group about purchasing the property in late spring of this year, director of leasing John Cunningham said. Multiple companies have approached Allen Commercial Group about moving into the former grocery store, renovating the building or bulldozing the structure since Allen Commercial Group purchased the building two years ago, Cunningham said.
“Part of our initiative was not just to find a user but find a user that would do well and benefit the community, and I think they fill all those (requirements),” Cunningham said. “It just worked out really well for all parties.”
Johnson Memorial Health has eyed the Whiteland property for the past 12 months, Jarosinski said. The health network has wanted to expand services into other areas of Johnson County, he said.
“We had always said that would be ideal,” Jarosinski said.
The property’s proximity to Whiteland Community High School and a major highway made it a good spot to reach not only Whiteland residents but also anyone driving on U.S. 31 or Whiteland Road, he said.
“Johnson Memorial Hospital is technically the only hospital in Johnson County, so we view our marketplace as the entire county,” Jarosinski said. “We want to bring new services and excellent care to the entire county, not just Franklin. This is a strategic decision to expand our footprint.”
But first, the former grocery store building, which has sat empty since 2002, must go. Jarosinski said the 24,000-square-foot building will be bulldozed in late spring with the goal of opening the new office by November.
The building will be built on the north end of the lot, with the structure expanding east and west. The southern part of the lot will be used for parking.
The facility will focus on primary care, including at least two family physicians, he said. Other primary care doctors in the facility might include a pediatrician or an obstetrician-gynecologist. No decision has been made as to which doctors will move into the building, but the focus will be on outpatient care, Jarosinski said. Based on the blueprints now, all of the doctors would share a common reception and waiting room area, he said.
The Family Physicians of Johnson County office on Tracy Road, which is owned by Johnson Memorial Hospital, will be relocated to the new facility, Jarosinski said.
The list price for the property was $975,000, Cunningham said, but neither Cunningham nor Johnson Memorial Hospital confirmed the final sale price. Hospital officials have not said how much they will spend to build and furnish the facility.
The Whiteland structure will serve as a sister office to Johnson Memorial Health’s Greenwood location, where construction is set to begin in the next few months. The hospital purchased a property off U.S. 31, south of Smith Valley Road, to build a single-story physicians office.
That building will be between 10,000 and 15,000 square feet and likely will include three doctors offices. Although Whiteland’s medical facility will share the waiting room and registration area, Greenwood’s location will be divided into individual doctor’s offices, Jarosinski said. The Greenwood location is slated to open by July, Jarosinski said.