City moves forward with plans to expand health and wellness center

The city's Employee Health and Wellness Center in Columbus.
The city's Employee Health and Wellness Center in Columbus. mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com

Columbus Council approved an amendment to a five-year lease agreement Tuesday that paves the way for the city to expand its health and wellness center.

City Manager Isaiah Hugley said the extra space is needed because of a policy change that allows all city employees to utilize the center as of Jan. 1. Prior to that, the center, located in a medical plaza at 2000 10th Ave., was only available to employees who selected it as an option on their health plan, he said.

The lease agreement will allow the city to to incorporate an additional 797 square feet into the existing 2,154-square-foot facility, according to the agreement. The landlord, Physicians Reality Trust, has agreed to spend $30,000 for improvements to the suite that will be used for the expansion. Improvements will include American Disability Act upgrades. The monthly rent will jump from $2,757.15 to $4,129.

Councilor Judy Thomas asked if there would be an annual rent increase. Human Resources Director Reather Hollowell said there was an annual 2.5 percent increase in the existing lease and that would continue under the new arrangements.

Hugley said city staff looked into another building that Councilor Jerry “Pops” Barnes had suggested, but decided to remain with the existing facility. Councilors Barnes and Gary Allen were absent from Tuesday’s meeting.

Hollowell said the property that Barnes recommended appeared to be cheaper at first glance. But there was an additional outside cost for utilities that doesn’t exist in the current lease, she said. The city would have to do a formal RFP or bid process to do a comparative analysis.

“The bottom line is the dollars and we certainly value that, but there are some other things that we would want to consider,” she said. “Because what we’re trying to do is, number one, have a facility that employees and their dependents are going to want to go to, feel comfortable going to, and have the confidence that they’re going to get the type of care and treatment that they’re looking for.

“... At the facility that we have now, that is there,” she said. “... It has everything that we need.”

Alva James-Johnson: 706-571-8521, @amjreporter