By Daniel Wyatt, associate, Lee & Associates – Houston

As you drive across Houston, you’re bound to see plenty of retail strip malls, once booming with tenants, now sitting empty awaiting new life. It’s a common sight nowadays, as e-commerce has played a huge role in changing the retail landscape seemingly forevermore. Commercial real estate (CRE) brokers have a positive outlook on how these idle spaces can be repurposed moving forward.
Micro hospitals and health care facilities that previously would be in a stand-alone building are moving into empty retail strips. This promising trend has been progressing over the last few years with no signs of slowing. CRE brokers that specialize in the medical business line are especially understanding of the benefits for supporting this movement. Not only is it positively impacting landlords, but it also offers a ton of improvements within the health care community in Houston.

Having multiple smaller access points throughout Houston is important for patient accessibility. If patients only have one local ER in their community, they will typically spend a significant amount of travel time to get there and are likely to experience a lengthy list of patients ahead of them. Micro hospitals usually have 10 to 15 beds, compared to 50 in a small hospital setting. This approach allows for more options, in terms of location, and more dedicated time for the medical staff to help their patients. In such a setting, the quality of care is improved, which also relieves the health care system from being overwhelmed.

The CRE industry has much to gain from being a part of this trend within the medical business. Brokers will have more opportunity to branch out to health care companies if they represent owners of retail strips or standalone properties. Existing hospitals may want to expand their locations by opening smaller scale practices within shopping centers. This would increase foot traffic for the area and draw attention from other potential tenants. Pearland-based Kelsey-Seybold clinic Downtown at The Shops at Houston Center is a great example of this smaller-scale practice model. Other health care facilities like physical therapy practices are ditching standalone buildings for shopping centers. TIRR Memorial Hermann Rehab Hospital is a prime example of this trend, with their sports medicine and rehabilitation clinic located at 2085 Westheimer Road.

The opportunity is now. Micro hospitals and health care facilities will continue to appear in strip centers around Houston. Patients and medical professionals are experiencing an improved environment and the health care system feels less pressure to accommodate everyone at once. CRE brokers are behind-the-scenes moving the process along and are striving to close cost-effective deals and securing new partnerships. All parties involved are contributing to a long-term positive impact within the Houston community.