County approves lease agreement for Cushing building

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
The former Saint Luke's Cushing Hospital building is owned by the Leavenworth County government.

Leavenworth County commissioners approved a lease that will allow a for-profit psychiatric hospital to operate out of a portion of the former Saint Luke’s Cushing Hospital.

Commissioners unanimously approved the lease agreement with Signature Behavioral Hospital Operations during a meeting Wednesday.

Saint Luke’s Cushing Hospital, Leavenworth, closed in October and the building was donated to the county government.

Commissioners already have expressed plans to relocate the county’s Council On Aging to the former hospital building and possibly other entities.

The lease agreement will allow Signature Behavioral Hospital Operations to use a portion of the first floor and the entire third floor of the Cushing building for an inpatient and outpatient psychiatric hospital.

Signature Behavioral Hospital Operations’ parent company is CenterPointe Behavioral Health System, Brentwood, Tennessee. Representatives of the company met with commissioners in January to discuss their proposal for the for-profit psychiatric hospital.

CenterPointe operates several hospitals in Missouri including Signature Psychiatric Hospital, which has locations in North Kansas City and Liberty.

The initial lease for the psychiatric hospital will be for five years. Signature Behavioral Hospital Operations can renew the agreement for two additional five-year periods.

April 1, 2022, is the latest possible start date for the initial five-year lease.

County Counselor David Van Parys, estimates said the company will pay the county about $514,777 in rent during the initial five-year period. The county would receive about $1.5 million for each additional five-year lease period.

Van Parys said the company will be charged a lower rent fee during the initial five-year period to offset expenses related to improvements to the space that will be made by the tenant.

“It’s a very significant investment,” Van Parys said.

Under the terms of the agreement, Signature Behavioral Hospital Operations will occupy about 15,077 square feet on the first and third floors of the Cushing building.

The agreement also gives the company the right of first refusal for leasing the fourth floor of the building.

If another entity expresses interest in leasing the fourth floor, Signature Behavioral Hospital Operations would be given the opportunity to match the offer.

“It would be more or less a bidding war,” Van Parys said.

He said access to the psychiatric hospital will be secured from the rest of the building.

Commissioner Vicky Kaaz said Cushing Hospital previously provided psychiatric services.

“It’s not something new for the community, and it’s never been an issue,” she said.

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

n Met behind closed doors in executive session for about 15 minutes to discuss personnel matters.

Commissioners took no action when they returned from the executive session.