OTTUMWA — The former Ottumwa Target building is getting a new tenant.
The Iowa City Veterans Health Care System is moving its Ottumwa outpatient clinic to 1020 N. Quincy Ave.
“All of our outpatient locations are leased space,” said Bryan Clark, public affairs officer for the Iowa City VA. “We opened the Ottumwa clinic about eight or nine years ago.”
Clark said the VA typically runs its clinics on a 10-year lease cycle, but they’re getting a jump-start on the expanded clinic to allow for remodeling before the current lease, at 1009 E. Pennsylvania Ave., is up.
“It made more sense to expand at that time rather than renew because it was beyond its capacity,” Clark said of the move into the former Target, which will also be a lease.
“They will have obtained an extraordinary property,” said Sharon Stroh, executive director of Ottumwa Economic Development Corporation. “It’s an excellent location, very visible, very accessible.
“I’ve been in that Target building a number of different times, and the prospects have been very impressed with what they’ve seen. It’s in excellent shape. Target Properties has maintained it extraordinarily well.”
“I think that the move to the old Target building is going to be a good one for the veterans as a whole because there will be more space,” said Terry Bradley, director of Wapello County Veterans Affairs.
Target closed its doors in Ottumwa in January 2016. In August of that year, discussions of new tenants for the building began with a possible mini-mall approach in mind.
In May 2017, Kerr Real Estate acquired the site with the idea of multiple tenants for “Kettle Creek Commons,” including a garden supply store with an outdoor sales area. Dunham’s Sports was one of the possible tenants, but it moved into Quincy Place Mall when the MC Sports location became available.
“The great thing about getting a retail space like that is that it is one big open space, so we’re able to build it to fit the requirements of the VA,” Clark said.
“It’s not new construction, so it will leave another vacant building that will need to sell,” Stroh said. “That’s not uncommon. It might be something that someone even smaller might be looking for. That location on Pennsylvania Avenue is a great location as well.”
The Ottumwa clinic currently serves about 2,000 patients, Clark said. A release from the VA states that the new location will include “expanded services such as improved examination and treatment space, dedicated women’s health exam rooms, and increased accommodation for primary care, mental health, pharmacy, physical therapy and more.”
“What we’re hoping they’re going to do and what I’ve heard they’re going to be able to do is move some of the departments down here to Ottumwa so that the veterans in the area don’t have to drive to Des Moines or Iowa City for some of the things that they need from specialty clinics,” Bradley said. “We’re looking hopefully for a local pharmacy in the building and maybe X-rays and to increase the size of the physical therapy department.”
In addition to those, Clark said the space will also allow for the expansion of tele-health. He said the VA has a vast network for tele-health and it will allow specialists to look at and address patient issues remotely.
“We’ll have room to expand and re-evaluate what resources we need because we’ll have extra space,” Clark said. The VA release says the expected date for opening is in the fall of 2020. “It’s hard to be precise on that because we haven’t started construction,” Clark said.
The new location, according to the release, will add about 8,700 square feet of space for a total nearing 15,000 square feet. Clark said the VA has a process for selecting its locations. “We solicit bids from area building owners and then evaluate those based on certain criteria, such as access to bus routes and parking, grade them out, look at those bids and make a selection.”
Bradley said the prior manager of the clinic expressed concern as the current lease approached its 2020 expiration and was unsure of where they would move. Bradley said he mentioned the old Target building at that time and brought it to the VA in Iowa City for consideration. Although it wasn’t traditional to the process, the Iowa City representative said he would pass the idea along.
“They liked my recommendation, I guess. I try to stay in tune to what my local veterans want and need,” Bradley said. “It’s on a bus route, there’s plenty of parking for veterans and staff and we can fit a whole lot of people in that building.”
“One of the other advantages of that location is that it’s easy for patients to access,” Clark said. “I don’t know how many 15,000-square-foot spaces you have that are just waiting for someone to rent.”
“There’s been plenty of interest [in the location],” Stroh said. “It just had to be the right fit.”
“As a veteran and as a patient out there, I think it’s going to be a great idea,” Bradley said. “It’s awesome what they’re doing for us.”