Featured in: Business First
Written By: Steve Ivey
Bennett & Bloom Eye Centers is preparing to open its new corporate headquarters in South Louisville.
The Louisville-based ophthalmology practice has built a 23,000square-foot office at the corner of Bluegrass Avenue and Manslick Road. Bennett & Bloom decided to relocate its corporate functions from the Dupont Professional Towers in the city’s East End to the area where the practice was founded, said executive director Herbert Pierce. “We started right behind Sts. Mary & Elizabeth (Hospital) 25 years ago, “Pierce said. “And there has not been a whole lot of development in this section of town. So we were happy to look here for our expansion.”
Stimulus bond helped finance development
The physician owners of Bennett & Bloom set up a separate company, ECL Properties LLC, to purchase the property from Seven Counties Services Inc. The sale of the property for $695,000 closed in August 2010. Pierce declined to disclose the total investment in the new building, but the company received a Recovery Zone Facility Bond of $4.5milion to help finance development. The bonds were created by the federal stimulus act to spur private development.
Pierce said about 35 of the practice’s back-office employees will relocate to the new office on Bluegrass Avenue. The facility also will have clinical space, including nine exam rooms. Two or three of Bennett & Bloom’s eight doctors will practice at the new office each day, Pierce said. The company has five other offices across Kentucky and Southern Indiana with a total of 95 employees. Doctors will continue to see patients at the Dupont office.
“We need to expand our clinical space there,” he said. “We are adding a doctor next year. We are implementing a new electronic medical record. So it will be a busy year for us”. Pierce said the practice has used mostly local or regional contractors for the new building. The architect is Stengel Hill Architecture Inc. and the construction manager is ERH Construction Crop. In Newburgh, Ind. Republic Bank & Trust Co. financed the project.
Space available for other tenants
Evan Tarbis, senior adviser at Duncan Commercial Real Estate LLC, is working with Bennett & Bloom on leasing about 8,000 square feet in the building to other tenants. He said he has worked with the Southwest Dream Team and the South Central Business Association on marketing the property and touting new investment in the area. “You’re not seeing a lot of new buildings go up, no matter what part of the community you talk about,” he said. “So to add 35 jobs to South Louisville is a big hit for this area.”
Tarbis said he has focused mostly on medical-related clients. But because physician practices are more frequently selling to or affiliating with the city’s major health systems, they have less autonomy on where to relocate. “It’s tougher getting those folks to look at other properties outside their own assets,” he said.
Pierce said Bennett & Bloom plans to occupy its space in February. “We are excited about the improvement we can offer our patients and employees,” he said. “We are glad to put down some new roots.”
Bennett & Bloom Eye Centers
Business: Ophthalmology practice
New Headquarters: 1935 Bluegrass Ave.
Executive Director: Herbert Pierce
Number of Physicians: 8
Other Locations: 2 in Louisville and 1 each in: Carrolton, KY Elizabethtown,KY and Jeffersonville, Ind.