Clinics set move to ‘old H-E-B’

LRHC, grocery firm close deal on Friday
Reporter Editor

H-E-B building: vacant since Sept. 4, 2005 
Reporter/Mike Brown H-E-B building: vacant since Sept. 4, 2005 Reporter/Mike Brown The “old H-E-B building,” vacant for almost nine years, is coming back to life in a big way.

Little River Health Care Network (LRHC) has confirmed it has purchased the building and will move all four of its Rockdale clinics into the 22,500-square-foot structure.

“We closed on it Friday,” Jeff Madison, LRHC chief executive officer, told The Reporter.

Madison said the building is being purchased from the H-E-B Company. Purchase price is not being disclosed as a courtesy to H-E-B.

“They’ve been very helpful and made this building available at a most attractive price,” Madison said.

CLINICS—All four LRHC clinics are targeted to move into the former super market once it is rehabilitated and remodeled, Madison said.

It opened in January, 1983, as Foodland, was then a Super S and H-E-B and will now house all LRHC clinics. 
Reporter/Mike Brown It opened in January, 1983, as Foodland, was then a Super S and H-E-B and will now house all LRHC clinics. Reporter/Mike Brown Those are the Little River Medical Clinic at 602 North Main and all three Family Care Center clinics (known to patients as Suite A, Suite B and Suite C) at Richards Memorial Hospital.

“It’s going to be much more convenient for customers to have all the clinics in the same place,” Madison said. “Of course, right now, one is across town and we’ve got separate clinics in several places at the hospital campus.”

Next step will be for an architect to draw up construction plans.

“We’re estimating six months for the plans, then a year or so for construction,” Madison said. “Of course, if we can beat that timetable we sure want to do it.”

He said acquiring financing for the project is also part of the overall picture.

COST—Madison said estimated cost of the project is $2.5 million. He said that breaks down to about a half million rehabilitating the 31-year-old building and $2 million for remodeling.

“It’s going to be nice,” he said. “We’re planning a covered entry way for dropping off patients. Of course, parking is a major concern and we’re obviously going to have plenty at this location.”

FIRST STEP—Madison said the acquisition is envisioned as a major step toward future moves to upgrade Richards Memorial Hospital, which turns 40 this year.

“Everybody knows we need to do some work on that building,” he said. “We are using every square foot of space there.”

During the summer administrative offices were moved outside the main hospital building into a modular structure.

“With the clinics moving out of there (RMH), this will give us some flexibility,” he said. “We hope we can open a dialog with the Rockdale Hospital District about remodeling the hospital building.”

The former H-E-B building is two blocks from the hospital.

HISTORY—The former super market opened as Foodland in January, 1983, part of a chain owned by Milano resident B. J. Armstrong.

Two years afterwards it became Super S, and was later sold to the H-E-B chain, operating first under its Pantry Foods name.

In March, 2005, Rockdale’s Walmart relocated from its original location next to H-E-B further to the west on US 79 and became a Super Walmart, selling groceries.

H-E-B officials first vowed to “stay and fight” and spent $150,000 to upgrade the building.

But in August the company announced it was shutting down the Rockdale store. Final day of operation was Sept. 4.

ORIGINAL—The Main Street clinic, one of the entities slated to move into the H-E-B building, still incorporates part of Rockdale’s original medical facility, Richards Clinic & Hospital.

That facility was founded in June, 1949, by Dr. John T. Richards and Dr. John Hopper.

Dr. Hopper left the hospital, and Rockdale, in November, 1949.

In 1964 the facility was upgraded.

Nine years later construction began on Richards Memorial Hospital.

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