Almost every economic crystal ball foretells an America in which medical and healthcare careers will be stable and plentiful. Most of it has to do with the sheer number of aging Baby Boomers, who are set to overwhelm current capacities to treat them as they decline.
So it appears to be an ideal time to do what Simone Realty does — build nothing but medical space. According to COO John Mastrosimone, the company aims to build medical plazas in which doctors of varying stripes could operate within loose onsite networks. General practitioners in Building A, for example, could refer patients in need of a specific treatment to a specialist in Building E. These would be one-story offices with ample parking and easy access designed to greatly diminish run-around time and discomfort for patients who might be wheelchair bound, or otherwise unable to easily navigate streets, parking lots, elevators, and stairs.
While the outlook at first glance is good, Mastrosimone emphasizes that you still have to work for it if you’re in his line of work.
“It might seem like the sun and the moon and the stars are aligning,” Mastrosimone says, “but it’s still tough to get people to sign leases in this economy.” The national downturn has hit every industry, and his is no exception.
Another factor is the simple fact that Simone Realty is a specialty developer. Most developers, Mastrosimone says, do not want to limit themselves to medical parks, and medical space itself is very expensive. Medical space, after all, cannot be adapted easily to multiple uses, and even within medical, there is no one size to fit all.
Some specialists will have equipment that requires special spaces or storage needs that negates the ability to make a general medical space. This is why Simone is looking to build medical complexes akin to retail space, anchored with a general practitioner the way a strip mall might be anchored by a Staples, for example.
Still, Simone Realty’s stock-in-trade is rented medical office space. The key advantage, Mastrosimone says, is its relatively low cost. Medical practices are expensive to start from scratch — which is why your doctor is likely to be in an office with four or five others — and new doctors are particularly at a disadvantage. Without a following of patients, it is difficult to build a thriving practice, but without a thriving practice, it is difficult to afford space for patients.
Older doctors as well, says Mastrosimone, like the flexibility of rented space. At the ends of their careers, many doctors like to work only a few days a week, and having space to rent for just mornings, or just Tuesdays and Fridays has a lot of appeal.
Simone, founded in 1976 by Mastrosimone’s father, John Simone (who changed his professional name from Mastrosimone some years ago) has signed a few leases at Capital Commons on Quakerbridge Road since U.S 1 last visited with the company in February, 2009. Capital Commons is about 85 percent full, Mastrosimone says, but, like losing the last few pounds, the last few spaces are difficult to rent .
Simone also has finished the shell of Lawrence Campus West on Federal City Road and is almost ready to fit it out, Mastrosimone says. No leases have been signed there, but he says there are several interested doctors.
Mastrosimone says the company is working on smaller scale projects in Pennsylvania now, too. Average projects are around 1,600 square feet.
— Scott Morgan
Simone Realty Inc., 100 Federal City Road, Suite C 101, Lawrenceville 08648; 609-882-1105; fax, 609-530-1037. John Simone Jr., president. Home page: www.simonerealty.com.