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  • McCausland

Structural Considerations for Retail to Medtail Conversions

Shopping behavior has changed dramatically over the past 10 years as the surge in e-commerce has taken customers away from the brick-and-mortar store. This shift has forced companies big and small to close retail storefronts across the country. It has also sparked an interesting question for the commercial real estate industry, landlords in particular. What to do with all of this established, but empty space in strongly populated areas?


At the same time consumer behavior has been evolving, so has the healthcare industry. The need for medical space away from the hospital has grown, driven often by the need for convenience. Hospitals are not always centrally located, especially in rural communities. So to best provide diverse, specialized, and affordable healthcare, many medical providers are opening offices in retail centers. These offices are called medtail - medical retail - and they tend to be more accessible than the hospital, where providers had traditionally been located.

Medtail facilities offer a perfectly timed opportunity to meet both the business need to fill available space and the individual’s need for an enhanced healthcare experience. There are many types of medtail facilities including urgent care, primary and specialty care offices, dental offices, veterinary / pet care offices, holistic care centers and physical therapy facilities.


Converting a retail space to medtail requires strategic planning, as does any adaptive use project. Adaptive use refers to the renovation of a building or space to a use that is different from the original intended design.

In any type of renovation there are important structural considerations. Let’s take a look at a few that are particularly critical in the conversion of retail to medtail.

  • Ceiling height and increased floor load - if your medtail facility will house large medical equipment, you will likely need higher ceilings and a reinforced floor surface to support increased size and weight.

  • Specialized wall lining may be required for certain types of rooms. For example, a room with machinery for X-ray, MRIs or CT scans will require lead lining.

  • Mechanical systems - different facilities have different mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) requirements. HVAC requirements can be dramatically different, as some uses require positive pressure, and others require negative pressure.

  • Privacy is critically important in all aspects of healthcare, including office design. Be sure to design a layout that offers medical practitioners the workspace required, and also offers privacy and security so patients are at ease.

  • Building code - Familiarize yourself with the building code before you begin a medtail conversion to ensure you build to code, and in the most cost-effective manner possible.

  • Sustainability is important as healthcare providers are incentivized to reduce energy usage. When converting a retail space to medtail, consider sustainable solutions like LED lighting with daylight sensors and efficient HVAC units that comply with the new standards of energy conservation.

Medtail is an exciting and valuable new use of commercial office space, but before you begin your conversion, be sure to assess these structural considerations to ensure you are building a space that will suit your needs today and in the future.

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