The healthcare developer whose bid for Number Six School was accepted by the Lawrence Board of Education plans to open a “one-stop shopping medical” facility at the site with 60 primary care and specialist physicians if given public approval, according to a press release.
A few weeks ago, the board approved the $12.5 million bid from Simone Healthcare Development Group, a division of Simone Development Companies, which plans to build a medical facility there that would be leased and operated by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
“Our plans for the property will maintain the exterior while transforming the interior to house a state-of-the-art healthcare facility,” Joseph Simone, president of Simone Development, said in the press release. “We do plan to greatly enhance the landscaping, adding greenery that will blend in with the surrounding neighborhood. But the biggest change here will be to the inside of the property and the additional benefits it will bring to the community through the delivery of modern healthcare services, new tax revenue, and good jobs.”
Many residents of the school district met the board’s approval of the Simone bid with anger and frustration. They argue that the development of the medical facility would disrupt the current community climate, create traffic on Peninsula Boulevard and take away a large green space. Simone’s plan calls for replacing the ball fields with parking lots.
According to the Simone press release, the developer’s proposal “will not burden the site with an expansion of the footprint or overall size of the School 6 building.”
All pedestrian and vehicular entrances on Church Street and Ibsen Street will be closed off, and new entrances will be created along Peninsula Boulevard and Branch Boulevard, where the parking lot will be built, "to minimize effects on local residents," said Ben Weinstock, counsel for Simone Healthcare Development. The entrance of the building will face the parking lot. A traffic study is currently underway, Weinstock said.
The practice would include cardiology, dermatology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, general surgery, hematology/oncology, nephrology, neurology, OBGYN, ophthalmology, orthopedics, pediatrics, plastic surgery, podiatry, rheumatology and vascular surgery. An urgent care center will also be on-site to treat urgent, non-life-threatening medical needs, the release says.
For Simone to go ahead with its plan, the community must approve its bid with a public referendum scheduled for March 20. It plans to hold several public forums on its plan.