Care Point construction underway

, Democrat staff writer7:04 p.m. EDT September 13, 2016

The groundbreaking was a decade in the making.

On Tuesday, a boxed frame collected ceremonial concrete that was churned and smoothed. The inaugural foundation symbolizes the start of construction of Care Point Health and Wellness Center, which will stretch along an entire city block at South Monroe and Adams streets and Magnolia Drive. For the next year, the four-acre site will be a construction zone as the largest project on Tallahassee’s south side in more than a decade takes shape.

The Care Point Health and Wellness Center is an $11-million, 27,000 square-foot medical facility designed to be a central place for a host of medical services. Its location is designed to serve downtown employees, south side residents and those living as far as Southwood, Crawfordville and Woodville.

Big Bend Cares is responsible for the concept. The agency, which serves more than 900 patients living with HIV and AIDS, hopes to reduce the burden for its clients who have been bounced around for medical care. But it’s also designed to serve insured low-income families, single parents, senior citizens and under-employed residents.

Rob Renzi, executive director for Big Bend Cares, said many of his clients are looking forward to the wrap-around approach for their varied needs.

“This is what they’ve been asking for, for a very long time,” Renzi said. “The clients that we serve and the providers we contract with are really the onus on why this whole thing developed.”

Renzi, who is also Care Point’s director, said the building’s concept has long been discussed by the agency’s board and “it’s been a big relief that we are making progress.”

Big Bend Cares and Care Point will function as two separate entities. Health care partners within Care Point include Florida A&M and Florida State universities, the Apalachee Center and Southeastern Center for Infectious Diseases. Insured patients will get access to dental, lab work and radiology services, including mental health professionals and pharmacists. (The uninsured can still receive heath care at Bond Community Health Care Center and Neighborhood Medical Services.)

“The finished project is going to be amazing,” said Lourena Maxwell, board chairwoman for Big Bend Cares. “It’s going to benefit people who can’t take half a day off or go to three places to get their health care needs met.”

More than 100 attendees, including city and county commissioners, builders, designers and health care partners, saw an already transformed area. Eleven buildings, abandoned and blighted, were acquired from seven property owners in order to combine adjacent lots and create space for the new center. Money for the project includes $1.5 million from the Community Redevelopment Agency and Big Bend Cares fundraising.

The Care Point project is the first new major construction project on Tallahassee’s south side in more than a decade, said Assistant City Manager Wayne Tedder. He said the last major construction projects there took place more than 10 years ago when a Walgreen’s store was built across the street on Magnolia Drive and a Winn Dixie erected on Paul Russell Road.

“We’re looking at this from a planning perspective as an incredible addition to the south side of our community where we have been focusing our efforts for many years,” Tedder said. “I think this is going to be a great start for a lot to come on South Monroe.”

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