Building on Complimentary Skills
Dr. Karl Staser and Dr. Rachel Kyllo became friends during their dermatology residency training at Washington University in St. Louis. Staser, who has a Ph.D. in biochemistry and immunology, originally worked for the university in a research-focused position.
However, he wanted to spend more time with patients and had a dream of one day starting his own practice. In a concurrent position with St. Vincent Hospital in Evansville, Indiana, he traveled (and still does) once a week, treating patients with typical dermatological problems. These include psoriasis, acne, warts, and skin cancers.
Kyllo has focused her career on surgical and cosmetic dermatology. After completing her dermatology residency training at Washington University, she trained at Northwestern University as a Mohs micrographic surgeon and now provides surgical care one day per week to veterans at John Cochran VA in St. Louis.
As Staser got to know Kyllo through her residency and beyond, he appreciated her complementary clinical strengths. He said, “She’s smart as hell and as skilled as they come. I think she’s the best dermatological surgeon I’ve seen.”
As they got to know each other, a romance blossomed too. Now happily married, they’ve decided to make St. Louis their home, even though they were originally from different states.
Staser said, “We love St. Louis. It’s a great town for food and drink. I’ve lived in Boston and LA, but the people here have a great attitude and are a lot of fun.”
The two realized their complementary strengths as dermatologists would make them a good team. They decided they would start searching the St. Louis area for a place to begin a practice of their own.
Serving the Underserved
Staser and Kyllo started with research, looking for where their services might be needed most. According to a recent report from Reuters, rural areas throughout the US are underserved by dermatologists. Though telemedicine has filled in some of the gaps for some straightforward problems, most skin issues still require an in-person appointment.
Staser said, “Telemedicine is a potential but partial solution for many rural people. There’s only so much a doctor can do over an Internet connection. Dermatology is a hands-on field. Patients have to be in an office for direct treatment of lesions, surgery, and skin cancer removal.”
However, when people have to drive too great a distance, they tend to put off appointments, suffering longer than they would if they had someone closer to home. As Staser and Kyllo conducted demographic studies, they realized eastern Jefferson County towns like Arnold, Herculaneum, and Pevely had an immediate need for more dermatologists.
The two decided to start looking online for commercial real estate for lease in Jefferson County.
Creative Commercial Real Estate for a Doctor’s Office
Dermatology offices don’t typically need to accommodate much bulky specialized equipment. Still, Staser and Kyllo needed around 5000 square feet they could easily split into:
- Rooms for exams and procedures
- A lab
- Offices for staff
- A waiting room
They wanted to be in an area easily accessible to people in their target demographic. Arnold was their first choice for a few reasons.
First, as the largest town in Jefferson County, it’s a destination for shopping and other amenities. Second, Arnold sits on I-55, which runs through the underserved eastern portion of the county.
Third, the couple needed to stay in St. Louis City for the time being. With responsibilities elsewhere (Staser in Indianapolis and Kyllo at John Cochran on North Grand), they needed property with easy access to I-55 as well.
While searching the Internet, one property caught Staser’s attention. He called the number on the listing, which led him to Will Meehan of Hilliker Corporation. Meehan took the time to understand what the doctor’s office would need to be successful. As Staser described the ideal property, he was impressed by Meehan’s straightforward assessment: “This isn’t for you.”
However, Meehan had a solution. He knew about commercial property for lease in a retail strip center in Arnold right off I-55. Owned by Hildegard Properties and represented by Kyle Steiner of JLL, it was 5524 square feet. The perfect size.
Creative Commercial Property for a Doctor’s Office
Before Staser and Kyllo looked at the space located at 3783 through 3789 Vogel Road, they were aware that few dermatologists had offices in strip centers. But their focus was on convenience for patients. Plus, they reasoned, dentists and plastic surgeons had found success in strip centers. Why not a dermatology practice?
And this bustling area next to a Target meant foot traffic — great advertising for a new business of any kind. The strip center is also home to a large modern gym, providing an obvious synergy with the cosmetic side of their practice.
Meehan represented Staser and Kyllo — now called Meramec Dermatology — during negotiations. Though Meramec would need to invest a significant amount in remodeling the space, Meehan negotiated in a tenant improvement allowance that helped significantly.
Staser feels like they’re starting on the right foot with their new landlords. He said, “Hildegard Properties was very professional and responsive. They’re the kind of business that wants other businesses to move forward.”
Of working with Meehan, Staser said, “He’s been great! Very responsive and professional. While our negotiations with JLL and Hildegard were positive, there was a lot of back and forth, and Will stayed with it till the end.”
With Steffel and Sons serving as contractors, Meramec Dermatology celebrated the grand opening of its full-service medical and surgical practice in January of 2020.
Success for Startups
Technicians of any kind have a lot to consider as they start a business of their own. Exceedingly skilled in one arena, their success depends on developing a network of outside experts.
That’s why Hilliker Corporation has become the entrepreneurs’ choice for commercial real estate in St. Louis.
Each of our brokers is an expert in the tricky and complex world of commercial real estate. And each has cultivated relationships with other specialists: lenders, accountants, contractors, lawyers, and more.
We listen, we consult, and we commit to helping you make the best real estate transaction for you and your business.
If you’d like to speak with Will Meehan and learn more about how he helps businesses find commercial real estate, click here.