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Not married to the m.o.b.: life beyond the medical office building

AmericanMedicalNews.com | By: Mike Norbut, AMNews staff

Traditional settings aren't the only place for physicians to practice. Some have successfully ventured into areas with high visibility and plentiful parking -- strip malls. Leasing retail space is not a widespread practice among physicians, but real estate experts say there is a market for doctors and other professionals because landlords see them as dependable, recession-proof anchor tenants who will likely stay in the space for a long time.

Meanwhile, some doctors -- especially primary care physicians looking for ways to distinguish themselves from hundreds of others in an HMO directory -- like having their names on a sign people can see from the road and an office that is mere steps from the parking lot.

"Family physicians almost have to treat their practices like a retail business," said Kenneth Weston, president of Kenneth Weston & Associates, Inc., a Miami-based health care real estate brokerage and consulting firm. "They don't have to be on the campus anymore, so they typically go where the population is strong." Many times, that means following the suburban sprawl surrounding many larger cities -- and locating in the ubiquitous strip malls.

The disadvantages prompt many physicians to steer clear of retail centers, experts say. But, there are favorable deals available, especially while landlords seek tenants to fill their empty spaces. Developers also have sensed enough of an interest from physicians that some centers have dedicated the outparcels -- corner sites normally set aside for banks or fast-food restaurants -- for office buildings, Weston said.


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