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01/14/2013

REAL ESTATE: Former Borders includes doctors' offices, urgent care center.

MemorialCare Medical Group has turned a former Borders bookstore in Long Beach into its first consolidated medical office building.

The affiliate of MemorialCare Health System in Fountain Valley last week opened the building at the Los Altos Market Center. The renovated two-story building includes a 24-7 urgent care center with lab and digital X-ray facilities as well as space for more than 20 physicians to practice.

MemorialCare Health System, which had been considering opening a medical building in its largest market for some time, got the idea or a retail storefront from one of its board members, Keith Nelson, who drives past the shopping center regularly. The Bellflower oulevard medical building is not far from the system's three hospitals in Long Beach: Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, Miller hildren's Hospital Long Beach and Community Hospital Long Beach.

Dr. David Kim, the director of the medical office building, said the office building will start out with 10 affiliated primary care hysicians, plus up to five part-time specialists. The office building will initially employ about 50 people and potentially more than 100

"The more we looked at the space, the more we realized how it met our objectives," Kim said. "It's in an area where there is a real eed for primary care. Having it in a retail space makes it very accessible to our patients, both geographically and psychologically. It's near the 405 freeway; there's free parking, a supermarket, a drugstore and lots of restaurants, so it can be in the middle of your errand run for the day."

Real estate developer Robert Manarino, whose Irvine based Manarino Realty brought in the now-defunct Borders, took a bit more convincing. Manarino said he had gotten plenty of interest in the 30,000-square-foot space since the bookstore went out of business more than a year ago, but no takers, largely because it had been build-to-suit.

"Now I really believe this is the future for health care," said Manarino, adding that he's in early discussions with another health system that might be interested in a storefront at another of his L.A. retail centers. "Health care is moving out of the hospital and into the neighborhood, where it's easier for people to access. And our other tenants are very happy to see this medical building open."