Linea lands urgent care center
by Matthew S. Bajko
An urgent care center is moving into two vacant retail spaces in the Linea housing development on upper Market Street.
Direct Urgent Care in early December signed a seven-year lease for the corner ground floor space and an adjacent storefront in the building, located at the intersection of Market and Buchanan streets and kitty corner to Whole Foods.
The non-emergency care provider will soon start work on renovating its 3,200 square feet of space and plans to open by May. It will be the fourth Direct Urgent Care location in the Bay Area and the first in San Francisco.
Co-owners Dr. Caeser Djavaherian and Dr. Jeff Kaufman opened their first Direct Urgent Care two years ago in Berkeley. In February they plan to open their second location, at 1150 West El Camino Real in Mountain View, and their third in March at 401 Grand Avenue in Oakland near Lake Merritt.
"What we try and do is get locations that are easy to get to for as many people as possible. Linea has a great retail corridor there with Whole Foods and the number one grossing Safeway in the country and lots of housing," said Direct Urgent Care CEO Scott Cheeseman. "There is a lot of foot traffic in that area with a lot of residents."
Added Djavaherian in a recent interview with the Bay Area Reporter, "We are so excited to be in that neighborhood. It really seems like it is a central hub."
Built by local developer Brian Spiers, the mixed-use Linea development opened last year. It features 115 condos over four ground floor retail spaces.
Until now, the building's only retail tenant has been H&R Block, which moved into a mid-block storefront at the start of 2015 after departing its office space across the street. The formula retailer relocated without going before the Planning Commission to seek a conditional use permit.
It was able to do so because city officials did not correctly draft interim zoning controls the Board of Supervisors had enacted for upper Market Street meant to bring public scrutiny to chain stores wanting to open in the area. It was not realized that the section of Market Street between Church and Octavia Boulevard had been left out of the zoning controls until the tax preparer leased the Linea space.
Because it is not considered a formula retailer, Direct Urgent Care does not need to seek planning commission approval to move into the Linea building. Spiers told the B.A.R. he is "very happy" to land the health care company.
"We actually didn't really start marketing it in earnest until recently because as we finished up construction, our general contractor was using it as a staging area," said Spiers of the corner storefront.
It had been designed to be used as a cafe or some other eatery type use, with an outdoor patio area attached, but Spiers said finding a viable such business proved difficult. He is still looking for a business to lease the remaining storefront, which is 400 square feet, at the opposite end of the building.
"We had some interest in a wine bar and some other uses. The entities that wanted it, given the fact they were not formula retailers and first-time businesses, were having a hard time getting financial backing," he said. "And it needed improvements since the space is not built out."
Direct Urgent Care intends to utilize the patio as an outdoor waiting area for patients. It will be installing tables and chairs in it.
It provides non-emergency medical care, such as X-rays, stiches, physicals, and pediatric care. The Market Street location will have seven employees, including two clinicians and three additional staff that are an X-ray technologist, nurse or medical assistant.
Its fees range from $25 to $350 depending on the procedure, and Djavaherian estimated their prices are 20 percent of what a patient would pay if they went to an emergency room for care.
It also offers a "Prompt Pay Discount Program" for those who do not have insurance or for patients who may have a high deductible with their plan that they are unlikely to meet. Some patients find the discount program is less expensive than going through their insurance company.
The discount reflects the lower administrative costs Direct Urgent Care can charge by not billing through insurance companies.
"We don't push people one way or the other. It is their choice," said Djavaherian. "Our mission is keeping people healthy, and part of that is keeping them financially healthy."
To learn more about the company, visit http://www.directurgentcare.com.