The right setting is crucial in reaching the goal of healing, says a real estate entrepreneur who is looking to bring dozens of alternative medicine practitioners under one roof.
That roof belongs to a 300-year-old building on a wooded, 7-acre campus at 304 Main St. in Farmington, where Yisroel Rabinowitz and others are opening the Bridge Healing Arts Center.
“The place has so much character,” said Rabinowitz, who is a 10-year veteran of Connecticut real estate and owns several properties in the Hartford area. “There’s a serenity about it that promotes healing.”
In a press release issued by Universal, BHAC is called the “first holistic health center in Connecticut.” Its mission is to bring together naturopaths, energy healers, acupuncturists, yoga instructors, massage therapists, nutritionists and others under one roof to serve the greater Hartford area.
“Healing really takes a team approach and there was no complex in the area where cross-specialty collaboration and referrals could take place,” Rabinowitz said. “It’s an amazing opportunity for providers to increase their client base by moving their office to a comprehensive wellness destination.”
Organizers liken it to the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health and Canyon Ranch Resort & Spa, both located in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. The originator of the concept of is Vera Halina, who is center director at the Farmington complex. She talked Rabinowitz into the idea after talks with another group broke off, she said.
With eight tenants signed and another six close to signing, Halina is excited about the venture's success.
“It’s nice to have that synergy going,” said Halina, whose areas of expertise include massage therapy and Chinese herbs.
Besides healing and empowering clients, Halina said she is looking to establish stronger contacts with traditional doctors and insurance companies in the Hartford area.
“It’s been a little slow going in Connecticut,” she said. “But most I talk to are generally receptive to our arts and the importance of keeping stress levels down.”
BHAC’s 8,000-square-foot building formerly housed the Keiler & Co. advertising agency, which closed in 2015. Rabinowitz’s New York-based real estate investment and management company, Universal Enterprise, bought the site last July for $1.45 million from ad agency founder Richard W. Keiler, according to records on file at Farmington Town Hall.
The building was constructed in 1711 with Keiler making additions to it after starting the ad business. The agency’s client list included Bloomfield-based health insurer Cigna Corp. as well as Groton-based Electric Boat Corp. and Stratford-based Sikorsky Aircraft Co.
Big changes coming to Obamacare, including possible elimination, will create opportunities for alternative medicine practitioners, Rabinowitz said.
“I think it’s the wave of the future,” he said.
The building and grounds promoted good feelings during the years that it was ad agency, former employees say.
“The building was the jewel of Keiler with a very pleasant atmosphere,” said Wayne Waaramaa, who is now managing partner of The Barnstorm Group, which is based in Hartford. “Lots of light and unique spaces. As we expanded, we all moved around to different offices and the building grew organically around the staff."
Staffers often had lunch on the sun decks and in the back yard, and Waaramaa said clients loved the quiet country atmosphere and meals served by Keiler's resident chef.
Melanie McMillan, who was Keiler’s public relations director from July 2012 until April 2015, also remembers the space fondly.
“The building had a lot of character – and characters," she said. "One of my fondest memories of working at Keiler is gathering around the fireplace with colleagues on cold winter days.”
There are 57 individual office suites located within the Bridge Healing Arts Center complex, Universal Enterprise said in advertising for its Feb. 23 open house, which included guided tours by already signed tenants including a reflexologist, psychic, reiki master, shaman RN, makeup artist, massage therapist and yogi.
Universal Enterprise said it is offering various types of leasing agreements, including hourly, which are attractive to small business operators.
Renting is a wise beginning strategy for those looking to eventually buy a building for their alternative medical practice, said Jeanne Zuzel, who co-founded the Incite Wellness Center in Norwich in 2009.
“Working with people who seek health and wellness is an incredible job,” she said. “I have absolutely no regrets. If I were to do anything different, I might have rented space for a while before purchasing a building.”