Work is underway to convert this former cast station and bank building into a CareNow Urgent Care facility.

When there’s new construction in the neighborhood, it’s usually a health-care facility or a pharmacy, right?

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding: Health-care facility it is.

The former Washington Mutual bank at the Belmont-Lakewood & Abrams Road intersection is being turned into a CareNow urgent care facility. Demolition is ongoing in the former bank, which has been vacant since late 2010 — a casualty of the recession/banking crisis of the day. No word on when the CareNow will open, but we’ll update you with details when we know.

When we checked in on this building in 2010, the leasing agent indicated that Wells Fargo — which inherited the building after taking over Wachovia, which inherited it from Washington Mutual (we think that’s the sequence since lots of banks changed hands back then, remember?) — was being held to the terms of the original lease, which required monthly or annual rental payments to the building owner regardless of whether the building was being utilized. That lease ran through 2027, meaning that it would take a pretty stout new tenant to get the landlord to either re-lease the building to someone else or allow Wells Fargo to sublease the building.

CareNow appears to have solved the economic conundrum and will be moving in to offer “urgent care” services, probably along the lines of the PrimaCare Clinic on the southwest corner of Abrams & Mockingbird as opposed to the “emergency room” building on the northeast corner of Skillman & Mockingbird. This appears to be CareNow’s first clinic inside LBJ on the east side of town, with the closest existing CareNow at Abrams & LBJ.

Bonus info: Back in 2009, we published a comprehensive story about how the Whole Foods across the street in Lakewood sprung out of the former Minyard’s store at Gaston & Abrams; a portion of that story discusses the transition of the Wachovia building from gas station to furniture store to bank, and how a bunch of neighbors banded together to keep the building from being torn down.

Prior to being a bank, the building was Lakewood Furniture, run as I recall by a neighborhood couple and carrying an eclectic mix of home design products. From what I remember, the couple sold the building to Wachovia and moved to New Orleans to open a bed and breakfast. I know we published a story or two about that history years ago, along with running a photo of what the building looked like way back when, but I cannot find it anywhere.

For even more back story, reader Chuck Ehmann pointed out this link to a copyrighted series of photos by photographer Scott Dorn highlighting the building as it looked right after Lakewood Furniture left and before Wachovia began construction.

The bank building formerly was a gas station; the station’s shell and entrance was preserved after neighborhood intervention in the permitting process.

Demolition crews from Lindamood Demolition take down the interior walls to prepare for a new CareNow Urgent Care Facility at Abrams & Belmont in Lakewood.

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