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Exempla may move out of The Peak

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By AJ Vicens

The Exempla Family and Occupational Medicine clinic at The Peak Community and Wellness Center may be on its way out.

Yannick LeRolland, director of IT services for Foothills Park & Recreation District, said a deal may be in the works to let Exempla vacate the space it occupies in The Peak in exchange for forgiveness of nearly $50,000 Foothills owes Exempla.

LeRolland said a three-year contract was signed between Exempla and Foothills in 2006 for the clinic to occupy the space, with an option to renew at the end of the contract. Exempla paid up front for all the construction costs, including costs to relocate Foothills' front desk and to change the configuration of Peak offices, LeRolland said, at an expense of about $100,000. Foothills still owes Exempla about $47,000 for that construction, and it may be forgiven if Exempla can vacate the space early.

"What we're being told by Exempla is that they're having a hard time filling the space in their new building, and they would prefer to be in that building," LeRolland said. "They told us a couple months ago about the idea to leave before the contract was up, and they would forgo the money that we still owe them on construction finishes."

Exempla opened the Exempla Lutheran Southwest Urgent Care building in August 2007 near the Wal-Mart at C-470 and West Bowles Avenue.

PJ Hollister, director of occupational medicine and physical therapy for the Exempla Physician Network, said that any possible deal involving Exempla leaving the Peak is preliminary. She said the possible move is not because Exeempla is having trouble renting out space in the new building, but rather because of a "goal to consolidate service in the Lutheran Southwest Urgent Care building."

"In terms of the collaboration with Foothills and community health and wellness initiatives, all of those efforts will remain unchanged," Hollister said.

The Peak, at 6612 S. Ward St., and the Exempla Lutheran Southwest Urgent Care building are 2 miles apart.

The deal would add more financial pressure to Foothills in the wake of recent projections showing the district is facing flat to declining revenues and soaring costs. In the short term, the district would save $47,000, but it would have to fill a space that rents out for approximately $2,400 per month.

LeRolland said the district is trying to determine whether the deal would be beneficial to the district and trying to figure out what to do next.

"We're looking at all the options, and have not made a final decision," LeRolland said. "We presented the issue to the board, and are still reviewing what the options are, and we are also looking to see if anybody would be able to rent the space where Exempla is with minimal construction costs." He said an ideal tenant would be another health and wellness organization.

LeRolland said that despite a sagging economy, "the prospect is good to find somebody to take over the space where Exempla is."

What if Foothills can't find a tenant to fill the space?

"We will," LeRolland said.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.