HealthFirst approves design for clinic on Southland Drive

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comDecember 13, 2012 

A "living wall" featuring native plants was left out of the design in favor of a courtyard and garden.

The board of HealthFirst Bluegrass on Thursday approved a two-story, steel and glass design for an $11.7 million clinic on Southland Drive.

Project manager Ted J. Mims said demolition should begin in mid-January, with construction on the building at 496 Southland Drive complete by this time next year.

The interior design of the two-story, 34,000-square-foot building, funded by a federal grant, was approved by the board last month, but the exterior was sent back to Lexington-based EOP Architects for revisions. The most notable change was the elimination of a "living wall" near the main entrance, a two-story cage over the facade that would have been planted with native vegetation maintained by a misting system. Instead, a courtyard and garden were added in the front of the building.

Tom Burich, head of HealthFirst's building committee, said there will be a promised third meeting at which Southland-area residents can review the design. The date for that meeting has not been set.

In previous meetings, neighbors have voiced concerns about stormwater runoff and flooding. Mims said Thursday that preliminary reports show that the new building will have minimal impact on runoff or flooding.

HealthFirst, a non-profit primary care clinic supported mostly through tax dollars, serves about 17,000 patients a year, many of them poor, at a clinic at 650 Newtown Pike. That clinic will continue to operate. Health officials say they hope the Southland location will attract more patients from the south side of Lexington. The HealthFirst board approved the Southland location in May after an extensive search for a property to renovate. The decision was made later to build instead.

Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.

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