There’s no business question more Wichitans have asked in the last year – even more than the perennial, “Are we getting a Cheesecake Factory?” – than about what’s up with the rehab facility that’s sitting empty at the Estancia development just southeast of K-96 and Ridge Road.
At last, there’s an answer. Two, actually.
“We’re excited to actually have our hands back on the project,” says Mainstreet founder and CEO Zeke Turner. “It certainly had a blip here in the middle that we weren’t in control of.”
That leads to the longer answer.
Turner started Mainstreet in 2002 to develop and operate what he calls “short-stay, post-acute care facilities.”
“There aren’t very many good places for people to go to get better,” he says, explaining that hospital stays often are too long or too short.
“We focus on a bridge from hospital to home. We help them to get out sooner and get home better.”
Mainstreet has several projects in Kansas, Turner says.
Mainstreet Property Group is the real estate side of the business.
Mainstreet Property Group developed and owned the Wichita property, and Turner says he was working on an deal with California-based Ensign Group to run the facility.
Ensign signed a lease, he says.
“By that time we had sold the actual building, so technically we were out of the property completely,” Turner says.
Mainstreet sold to Indiana-based Invesque, a company Turner founded under another name and eventually sold.
“I have no ownership and no say,” Turner says.
Last spring, as part of a larger deal in other markets between Invesque and Ensign, Invesque released Ensign from lease obligations on three facilities in Texas and Kansas, including the one in Wichita.
No one with Invesque or Ensign returned calls for comment.
After Ensign was no longer involved, Invesque called Turner, he says.
“Would you be interested in acquiring the property back and doing something with it?” Turner says the company asked.
“Being that we put heart and soul into this project and really like the Wichita market, we acquired that property back,” he says.
Turner says his company is now working to find an operator. There’s a chance it could be his Mainstreet Health, but it probably won’t be.
“Slim,” Turner says of the odds. “It’s likely to be a third-party group.”
Mainstreet Property Group has developed more than 60 facilities nationally, and Mainstreet Health operates 15 of those.
“We’re very deep in Texas and Arizona and Colorado,” Turner says.
He says it makes more sense to go deeper in those markets where the company already has established relationships and let another company that has more relationships in Kansas operate the Wichita facility.
“There are good operators out there.”
Turner thinks the operations deal will happen soon but licensing will take longer.
“We’re beginning that process.”
He says he should know more by spring.
“We probably won’t be open and operational until the summer.”
The 94-bed rehabilitation and therapy facility will be able to treat anyone 18 and older.
“Anyone with some procedure at a hospital who needs a few days or a couple of weeks for intensive rehab and therapy,” Turner says.
He adds that the facility “will tend towards people that are over age 65.”
“We really fit a gap that otherwise is not being addressed in today’s health care market,” Turner says.
He says there are other rehabilitation facilities, but “not at the medical level that we do it.”
“We want to really raise the bar in the way that healthcare can really serve consumers.”
Turner says the facility helps families answer the question, “What do we do now?” with older relatives who need help once leaving hospitals.
He says most people who step into the building won’t believe it’s a health care facility. Instead, he says they might confuse it with a boutique hotel.
“We really pride ourselves on building beautiful buildings,” he says.
Turner says the idea is to create a space “to lift your soul when you first walk in.”
“Mainstreet’s mission is to transform lives,” he says. “That’s when we’ll know this property is doing what it should be doing.”