Doctors scatter with new Donway site

[attach]3329[/attach]Dr. Mark Cohen was one of the first in, and he’ll be one of the last to leave.

After 37 years practicing dentistry at 75 The Donway, Cohen will be moving when his lease is up at the end of next year.

“I’m a Don Mills dentist,” Cohen says. “I am, I believe, the oldest tenant. We’ve been in this building since 1973…. I’ve seen Don Mills change.”

As part of that change, the medical building will soon be converted into lofts and re-dubbed “LivLofts” one of seven residential buildings Cadillac Fairview has planned as part of its redevelopment of Lawrence and Don Mills. City council gave the project the nod back in February. Sales of the new units began this past summer and a showroom has been installed on the main floor. According to the sales office, the units will be ready by 2013.

That means the building’s current tenants— including physicians, dentists, an x-ray clinic, an ultrasound clinic and a laboratory — will be moving.

“It’s unfortunate the powers that be didn’t allow for a central location where all of us could have remained,” Cohen says. “It wasn’t in (Cadillac Fairview’s) game plan to find a single location to move everybody to. They let everybody fend for themselves.”

Jeanetta Vickers feels the same way. A senior whose doctor recently moved out the building, she fought for some time to prevent the break-up of the centralized medical services at 75 The Donway. She says the change will affect tens of thousands of patients, especially seniors, who will now have to make several trips to get all the services they previously received in one place.

“They’re just scattered now,” Vickers says.

Cohen echoes that sentiment.

“We see patients who have seen physicians in the building and some of those physicians have left now,” he says. “It’s unfortunate because it was very convenient for people when they came to this building. They could have their medical appointment, their dental appointment and importantly, they could have their laboratory services.”

[attach]3331[/attach]While Cohen says patients are upset about having to go afield to get their services, he’s confident patients will continue to see him if he stays nearby.

“So far we haven’t had anyone that I know of say ‘I’m not coming to see you anymore because my physician has moved 10 blocks north.’ ”

But that doesn’t mean he isn’t affected. Because of the costs associated with moving, installing and certifying dental equipment, Cohen estimates the move will cost him about $150,000 for his 1,000 square feet of office space. Cadillac Fairview invited him and several other tenants to look at office space within the Shops at Don Mills, but he says it would have been too costly to retrofit the space to make it viable as a dental practice.

Cohen says doctors and patients will want to stay nearby.

The new Don Mills Family Health Team, a group of family doctors who will work together, is set to start operations in the spring and are currently seeking a space to call home.

Although they plan to start with just a handful of doctors, they say they hope to grow and incorporate more services.