By Thor Jourgensen / The Daily Item
Thursday, March 3, 2011

All Care new building

Matt Bonney of Cavlieri Construction works on the new All Care VNA site at the corner of Market and Broad streets in Lynn Tuesday. (Item Photo / Reba M. Saldanha)

LYNN – George Markos is a veteran of downtown’s boom and bust years, but the Brothers Deli owner smiles and talks excitedly about the prospect of more than 150 Visiting Nurse Association employees dropping into his restaurant for breakfast and lunch when the association’s new headquarters opens in December.

The regional provider of nursing, physical therapy and home health aide services is building a four-story office building between the commuter garage and Broad Street.

VNA President Shawn Potter said 150 employees will work in the building with 100 more coming and going from it every work day.

“It’s a great idea and it’s a step up for downtown,” said Markos.

The building will consolidate a VNA workforce currently spread across the agency’s 16 City Hall Square office, the Century Bank building and a Wakefield location.

All Care is leasing up to 200 parking spaces in the commuter garage from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

Potter said the VNA board of directors picked the commuter garage land as the site for its new building instead of locations outside Lynn.

“Were there opportunities to go outside the city? Absolutely. The board really wanted to stay in Lynn,” Potter said.

The new building will feature a curved glass front facing the ocean and Boston, a rooftop deck and ground floor office space that will be held in reserve for future growth.

The first floor will include a main lobby with a reception area while upper floors will be organized with agency operations, billing, medical records and private duty operations on the second floor; clinical and hospice workers on the third floor and executive office, finance and human resources employees on the fourth floor.

“I’m really excited. It’s going to be a great, first-class office building,” Potter said.

The building’s construction will cap off a major year for the VNA that includes a June 6 centennial celebration commemorating the agency’s origins as a nursing service that dispatched its caregivers on bicycles.

Lynn Economic Development and Industrial Corporation Director James Cowdell said the VNA’s project is part of a downtown development resurgence that includes Lynn Community Health Center’s expansion project now under way and plans to put businesses and residences in 14 Central Ave., downtown’s biggest office building.

“It’s all positive – it’s bringing bodies downtown,” Cowdell said.

He added that restaurants and other businesses will benefit from the expanding workforce in the city’s center.

All Care VNA is one of 420 visiting nurse associations nationwide. The agencies are not affiliated but they aim for similar goals.

“It’s a service that gets patients up on their own,” Potter said.

All Care serves patients from Boston to the New Hampshire border and has a 640-employee payroll including 275 Lynn residents.

Markos is looking forward to some of those workers taking the two-block walk to Brothers.

“It’s going to make downtown feel like a downtown. It’s supposed to be full of life,” he said.