CareSTL Health is replacing its location on Whittier Street with a new $18 million medical facility that is being built at the corner of St. Louis and Newstead avenues, 4414 St. Louis Ave. The Whittier location is beyond its better days.
“We acquired the site in October of 2005 from the City of St. Louis, and the site is old and antiquated and we can’t do anything in the facility,” said Angela Clabon, chief executive officer of CareSTL Health. “If we touch anything, because it’s old, we may disrupt asbestos and those types of things.”
The groundbreaking ceremony took place on August 25 for the new, 40,000-square-foot health center. It will serve as the administrative headquarters and provide medical, dental and specialty services, including physical therapy.
“We want to make sure we bring specialty services in the middle of North St. Louis,” Clabon said.
“Our initial goal was to build the new site on the current ground of our Whittier location, but wanted to create the wellness campus model to make sure that we develop a health center that had a little bit more green space, walking space, and we wanted to have housing surrounding our health center.”
The new structure will be the first CareSTL Health location with a drive-through pharmacy. The health center will be equipped with a training room and a commercial kitchen that the community can utilize for meetings and events. The new facility will be near two major bus lines.
“And we are building 42 low-income housing units around the health center as well,” Clabon said.
While it will no longer be a health facility, the old Whittier Street location is part of CareSTL Health’s strategic plan, as it will be used for senior housing.
Clabon said CareSTL Health worked with Dr. Troy Nash as its consultant and used Duane Thompson of HT Design LLC to design the facility. The health center received funding for the project from the City of St. Louis, Washington University and Missouri Foundation for Health, and worked with U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay and Gov. Mike Parson on the project.
“A lot of persons have been helping us,” Clabon said, adding that the majority of the funding is in place. “We are still negotiating our tax credit; we are about $5 million short. We should close that gap. I’ll have to go after a second allocation for it.”
The new facility will take 18 months to complete. It was designed with COVID-19 and future public health crises in mind.
“The design is to protect us from the next pandemic,” Clabon said, “such as putting in a ventilator system that will make sure that any type of viruses will go on the outside. We’re making sure we change our systems for incorporating social distancing.” That includes separate private restrooms to maintain social distancing.
The build-out would not have been possible without the support of the late Alderman Sam Moore, whom Clabon worked closely with to secure the location to create the new facility to serve community health and housing needs.
Clabon said she would get weekly calls from Moore to get an update on the project. “He would say, ‘Clabon, don’t drop the ball. My community really needs this,’” she said. “I would say, ‘Alderman Moore, I will not drop the ball. Our community deserves this.’”