FALL RIVER, MA-HealthFirst is taking a 78,000-square-footindustrial space and converting it to a community health center.The transformation at 387 Quarry St. will cost roughly $13 million,appraised at that cost in May 2010. The 3.64-acre lot is zonedBL-Local Business and is anticipated to deliver by December2011.

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HealthFirst is receiving an $11.5-million grant from theFacility Investment Program in response to a Health Resources andServices Administration competitive American Recovery andReinvestment Act of 2009 grant opportunity. This was part of theHealth Center Program.

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"They had this vision and they were aware of the grant moneythat was available, and they pursued this funding," explained MaryAnn Williams, project executive with Skanska USA Building. Skanskawas named by HealthFirst to renovate the property. An interiorrenovation will coincide with a modernizing of the exterior of thestructure. According to HealthFirst, it was a textile plant, aswell as a Bradlee's. The property has been vacant for at least thelast five years.

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HealthFirst had been working to served Fall River from the samespace for the last 39 years, as a walk-in facility and used thefederal grant as an opportunity to relocate and expand. Theadvantages to a larger space are not simply academic, the facilitywill be able to double its exam rooms from 13 to 26 and quadrupleits dental operations from 2 to 9. These expansions will allow thelocal healthcare facility to serve close to 6,000 more patients,per year, HealthFirst estimates.

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As with everywhere else, another motivator for the city is jobs.Fall River suffers from unemployment in the mid-teens and thefacility, once complete, boasts an additional 30 permanent jobs,plus the temporary construction that will come with the renovation.A former textile town, Fall River much like the rest of the US, hasseen a decline in the textile industry over the last 20-30years.

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