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Faith Regional secures two buildings for future expansion

September 30, 2018

The days are numbered for two buildings that once housed longtime Norfolk businesses.

Faith Regional Health Services in Norfolk has announced the purchase of the former Prenger’s restaurant at 116 E. Norfolk Ave., and the former Lloyd’s Drug Mart at 2600 W. Norfolk — and has created a tentative plan to redevelop those areas.

Kelly Driscoll, Faith Regional’s newly appointed chief executive officer, said the hospital is in the early stages of the planning phase, but under ideal circumstances, construction on the redevelopment at the former Prenger’s location will begin in 2020.

The tentative plan for the Prenger’s location is to build a new outpatient clinic to improve health care access in the eastern part of Norfolk.

Driscoll said the idea to expand the hospital’s presence in eastern Norfolk came after realizing the need in that area for better access to primary care and behavioral health services.

“We want to be able to complement some of the services that are already there and enhance that,” Driscoll said.

Hospital officials are looking at a number of components — in addition to the medical studies — in the development of its plan to build an outpatient clinic at the former Prenger’s location, she said. Those include traffic and access studies, the goals the hospital has for its medical providers and the city’s strategic vision.

“We looked at a great deal of components to make that decision, and we felt that the Prenger’s location just seemed to fit that bill,” Driscoll said.

While Driscoll stressed plans are still tentative and construction on a new facility likely won’t begin for another two years, she expects demolition of the former Prenger’s building to happen before the end of the year.

The Prenger’s building has been located at the East Norfolk Avenue address since the mid-1930s, when the restaurant’s founder, Ed Prenger Sr., had it moved from its original spot across the former Norfolk High School.

According to Daily News archives, Prenger moved the restaurant after various residents of the community expressed displeasure at the idea that alcohol could be served so close to a school.

Prenger operated the restaurant until retiring in the 1970s.

The building was eventually leased to a Lincoln-based company called Sweep Left. It was sold and re-established as Prenger’s Restaurant in 1985. The restaurant closed its doors for good last summer.

Driscoll said the hospital wants to respect the history of the building. The restaurant’s former general manager, Al Zabawa, has been given the opportunity to salvage treasured pieces from the building before its demolition.

“They’ve been very generous in that regard,” Zabawa said.

The hospital also is working on plans to redevelop the area where Lloyd’s Drug Mart once operated near the intersection of Norfolk Avenue and 25th Street.

The pharmacy that had operated at Lloyd’s for more than 50 years ceased operation two years prior to the store’s closing in early 2017.

Driscoll said a clear vision for the former Lloyd’s area has yet to be determined, but one possibility that fits Faith Regional’s strategic vision involves the relocation of the hospital’s rehabilitation program from its current spot on the hospital’s east campus.

Driscoll said the existing Lloyd’s area of the building would be demolished to accommodate the redevelopment if those plans come to fruition, but plans for the area are still in the early stages of development.

“We have a lot of projects in the air right now,” she said. “We want to be able to do them the right way.”

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