Integrating Health in Greenfield

Whitney Hill Antiques on Main St in Greenfield.
Whitney Hill Antiques on Main St in Greenfield.

An integrated health services center is planning to open in the Main Street building currently occupied by Whitney Antiques and the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.

The Center for Human Development, a social services agency based in western Massachusetts, plans to purchase the property at 102 Main St. and develop the facility, which will combine primary care, dental and behavioral health services, in conjunction with the Community Health Center of Franklin County. The two agencies have been working together for several years and currently share a space at Cherry Rum Plaza, which they plan to leave.

CHC will provide medical and dental services, while CHD will provide behavioral health services, Felicity Hardee, attorney for CHD, said at a recent Planning Board meeting.

“This is a model the health care system is actively encouraging now to co-locate primary care, dental care and behavioral care, so patients with multiple issues can be seen in the same spot,” she said.

CHD President and CEO Jim Goodwin said between $2.7 and $3 million will be put into renovating the building — mainly on the inside — and assured the Planning Board that the outside of the building would maintain the look of a retail store, after Chairwoman Roxann Wedegartner expressed concern about the non-retail business filling a downtown retail space.

 “One of the things that I think our presence will do is help other retail businesses to succeed because we’ll have a lot of people — especially the people we employ — they’ll be down here, they’ll be buying lunch, they’ll be shopping at noontime, they’ll be going out in the evenings,” Goodwin said. He said later that the center will have 75 to 80 employees.

Hardee said the agency sought the downtown building because of its location, which provides easy access for patients who use different types of transportation, including walking, biking, driving and public transportation. Goodwin added the basement of the building will be renovated into a conference room, which he hopes to make available to different groups and organizations in town.

Because the building is in the Central Commercial zoning district, CHD will need to obtain a special permit from the Zoning Board of Appeals to operate its not-for-profit health care facility there. Goodwin said he expects to go before the ZBA next month to request the permit, and if granted, CHD will purchase the property immediately. He said construction will take about nine months, and CHC will rent space inside the building.

Whitney Hill Antiques, which has rented space in the building for nearly four years, plans to relocate, according to its owner.

“We are in the process of acquiring another building in Greenfield that actually may be bigger and have more space than what we currently have, which may be a good opportunity for other vendors to be able to come in to the new building,” Dale Whitney said. “There is a possibility we will be having additional space available, but our total intent is to keep our strong presence right on Main Street in Greenfield.”

Hardee said she anticipates the state will put out a request for proposals to relocate the district attorney’s office, as its lease in the building is up next year.

The Planning Board voted to give a positive recommendation to the Zoning Board of Appeals for the special permit, on the condition CHD resurface the back parking lot “sooner rather than later,” as several members of the board pointed out it’s in bad condition, and to make the front of the building blend in with the retail stores around it.

Article originally published online at http://www.recorder.com/Integrated-health-center-hoping-to-move-to-downtown-Greenfield-2743441

You can reach the author Aviva Luttrell at: aluttrell@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 268

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