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The Palm Beach Post, Fla., The Source Column

July 15, 2008

By Alexandra Clough, The Palm Beach Post, Fla.

Jul. 13–CLEVELAND CLINIC TO OPEN NEW DIGS IN OCTOBER: An all-star roster of doctors and medical services is coming to West Palm Beach in the fall, courtesy of the Cleveland Clinic Florida. October is the target opening month of the famed academic medical center’s opening at CityPlace Tower, West Palm Beach’s newest office building. Cleveland Clinic is taking the entire 14th floor of the 18-story tower, plus space on the ground floor for an imaging center.

With construction proceeding rapidly on the clinic space, the pace of hiring also is picking up, said Dr. Bernie Fernandez, chief executive of Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston.

In the past couple of weeks, the clinic has made a couple of key hires, including Dr. Lester Rosen, a respected colorectal surgeon from Pennsylvania and a past president of the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons. Other physicians who will be staffing the new offices include a urologist, gynecologist, and an internist. About seven physicians will be part of Phase I of the clinic’s opening.

More will come aboard later when the clinic starts performing outpatient procedures such as endoscopies, Fernandez added. Recruitment of nurses also is under way.

Initially, the local Cleveland Clinic will employ 30 to 35 people, but by the third year that figure should rise to 60.

Interest in the clinic’s upcoming opening is strong: People are saying, ‘Let us know when you open the new place so we can start making appointments,’ Fernandez said.

And what’s the hot field of medicine among patients?

Internal medicine is in the greatest demand, but if we look at our services, colorectal surgery has been extremely busy, Fernandez said. There’s also cardiology, and orthopedic sports medicine. Fernandez says he’s still on the prowl for one more speciality at the new West Palm Beach office, and that’s an endocrinologist.

Diabetes is an epidemic, Fernandez said. In Weston, we have five endocrinologists and they’re completely booked. We’re trying to identify one more for West Palm Beach. The Cleveland Clinic has been seeing patients at an interim facility at the Northbridge Center in West Palm Beach. But the clinic’s range of services will dramatically expand once it moves into its new space next to the CityPlace shopping and dining complex on Okeechobee Boulevard.

Cleveland Clinic’s target audience: Wealthy patients and benefactors in nearby Palm Beach and in surrounding areas. Already, some 50 percent of Cleveland Clinic’s Weston patients are from outside its immediate zip codes. Now those patients coming from Palm Beach County and points north will be able to visit clinic doctors in a luxurious, convenient setting.

The vistas from the 14th floor are stunning, Fernandez said. We’ll be providing first-class medical care.

CITYPLACE TOWER FILLING UP: Space in CityPlace Tower is filling up fast and more deals are in the works.

One possible deal involves the venerable Casey, Ciklin law firm in West Palm Beach.

Alan Ciklin, the firm’s managing partner, acknowledged the firm was considering a move to CityPlace Tower from its longtime perch at Northbridge, aka the Darth Vader building (in honor of the structure’s imposing black glass facade).

Casey, Ciklin leaving Northbridge would be a seismic shift in the commercial landscape, akin to Santa Claus relocating from the North Pole.

But perhaps the firm’s sentimental ties to the building aren’t the same since its founding partner, William R. Boose III, left the firm.

Boose was a part of the investor group that developed Northbridge, which is located on North Flagler Drive. Now Boose is serving a two-year prison sentence in rural North Carolina for his part in a corruption scheme.

Ciklin said the firm’s move to CityPlace Tower could make sense, if the numbers add up. At CityPlace Tower, the firm will probably take about 5,000 square feet less than its current 30,000 square feet at Northbridge. A more efficient configuration on one floor would work much better than the current arrangement on two floors at Northbridge, Ciklin said.

He also likes the tower’s hurricane-resistant construction, including the impact-resistant windows, plus the generator that will keep power running even if a storm cuts power to the area.

Still, the rents at CityPlace Tower are considerably higher, starting in the $30-plus range for space, and that doesn’t include taxes and maintenance. Ciklin said base rents at Northbridge are in the mid-$20s.

Ultimately, the decision will be based on — what else — money.

The less overhead you have, the better, and the more money you make, Ciklin said.

Ciklin said the firm’s lease is up in two years at Northbridge, but he hopes to make a decision soon. It’s a gorgeous building, Ciklin said of CityPlace Tower. But on the other hand, we’d hate to move.

All in all, about 80 percent of the CityPlace Tower is leased, a tower spokeswoman said. Talks are ongoing with more potential tenants, including Casey Ciklin, another law firm and a financial services firm.

The Source is a weekly online column about business and real estate in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast. You can read more of Alexandra Clough on Mondays in the Inside Local Business section.

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