McLaren facility to open in Au Gres
Au GRES — A McLaren medical office is coming to Au Gres later this year at the American Pie property on US-23 and Water Street.
The announcement was made during a special joint meeting of the planning commission, city council and TIFA board at Au Gres City Hall April 29, where David Dittenber and Dr. Thad Rathkamp of Kampber Management spoke about their plans. David Dittenber said assuming the city gave them the okay at a May 20 meeting, they would demolish the dilapidated American Pie building starting June 1, begin construction of two buildings in July, and finish construction by the end of 2013.
He said the office has been in the planning stages for around a year after he suggested to Rathcamp, who has been practicing in Freeland, that they open an office in Au Gres.
“Thad and Dave started working on this together (with the city), reviewing the properties available,” City Manager Pat Killingbeck said. “We learned the American Pie property was available, though it was blighted, broken into, vandalized, falling apart … but it was something they decided they could around.”
Killingbeck said the property had gone up for a foreclosed property sale by the county, which was when David Dittenber and Rathkamp decided to purchase it.
David Dittenber said it took longer than expected when three health companies became interested in getting involved, with McLaren ultimately winning out.
The McLaren site plans state the buildings will start off with examination rooms and lab facilities, but Rathkamp said with the million dollar investment McLaren is making, along with a 15-year lease, he would not be surprised to see if they went on to expand.
“As they grow, we will see more services, but the lab and urgent care will probably be it to start with.”
Rathkamp said he would not be leaving his private practice in Freeland to work at the new facility in Au Gres, but rather continue on at both. He said McLaren has top oncology and cardiac treatment programs and facilities in Mid-Michigan, and believed that expertise would find its way to Au Gres as well.
David Dittenber said he expected the new McLaren office to create a minimum of 15 new jobs in the city, with a knock-on effect for other businesses in the area from people visiting the medical buildings. He added that McLaren seems interested in working with the other medical facilities and hospitals in the area to help get patients treated.
Mayor LaVern Dittenber expressed his excitement over the new facility, believing it will be a boon to the city and the county.
“I think this is as great a thing as to happen in my tenure as mayor,” he said. “I think this is a boon to not just Au Gres, but all of Arenac County. We need growth in the city and the county, and I think McLaren is making a wise move moving into the northern territory and to areas that are open.”
Au Gres-Sims Superintendent Jeff Collier said he thought this would be a good addition, especially for students interested in the sciences, while Rathkamp said he would be willing to help cover sports physicals for students.
A native of Au Gres, David Dittenber said he was excited to be coming back to his hometown.
“It’s nice to be back in my hometown, and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” he said.