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May 11, 2021

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Vancouver’s Boomerang Therapy Works plans big move

Downtown wellness center moves to central Vancouver this summer

By , Columbian business reporter
Published:
6 Photos
Boomerang Therapy Works is moving to a new location next month because its current building is set to be demolished to make way for an apartment building. The taped-off section of the exterior wall was where a car drove into the building recently.
Boomerang Therapy Works is moving to a new location next month because its current building is set to be demolished to make way for an apartment building. The taped-off section of the exterior wall was where a car drove into the building recently. (Joshua Hart/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

After four years in downtown Vancouver, Boomerang Therapy Works is preparing to move out of its gym building and setting up shop in central Vancouver. If all goes according to plan, its new location will debut June 1.

Physical therapists and co-owners JJ Flentke and Emily Kaemmerlen signed a lease earlier this month for the new location at 4201 N.E. 66th Ave., Suite 104, just north of the state Highway 500 interchange with Northeast Andresen Road.

Boomerang provides one-on-one physical and occupational therapy for patients with neuromuscular disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, as well as group therapy and programs, such as dance classes. The company presents itself as a wellness center with an emphasis on community, according to Flentke, trying to avoid looking like a medical office or traditional physical therapy facility.

Boomerang’s current gym is a converted warehouse building in the southeast corner of downtown. The studio includes a host of equipment to help clients work on strength and balance issues, such as a large tilting treadmill that can change its incline in any direction. It was designed for professional athletes, Flentke said, but has proved to be very helpful for clients who need to work on their balance while walking.

“When you have Parkinson’s disease, you stand still just fine,” she said.

The rest of the block is undeveloped, and the Boomerang building is slated to be torn down as part of an upcoming project from property owner Hurley Development to build a new apartment tower. Hurley had previously eyed the site for a hotel project but later switched gears and pursued apartments.

Bright and open

Boomerang had expected its current home to be permanent when it opened in 2017, Flentke said. Some of the early hotel plans called for building it on the remaining three-quarters of the block and leaving the warehouse in place. But Hurley gave Boomerang almost a year of advance warning, notifying it last summer that the project scope had changed.

Flentke said the early warning gave her and Kaemmerlen plenty of time to find a new location. The co-owners said they were hunting for a site with the same sunny interior feel, in order to maintain the studio’s atmosphere as a wellness facility rather than a health care or medical clinic. (The mini freezer full of after-therapy frozen pops will still be available at the new site, Flentke stressed.)

“Our goal is to keep it bright and open,” Kaemmerlen said.

Flentke and Kaemmerlen said they were also determined to address one of the few shortcomings of the existing site: parking. A dedicated parking lot was part of the essential criteria for any new site.

The new facility is slightly smaller than the current space, but Flentke said everything will still fit, including Boomerang’s group therapy and dance classes. Flentke said the goal is to expand the lineup with new offerings, such as classes for multiple sclerosis patients.

The building is configured for office space, so preparations will include knocking out some of the interior office walls and replacing the carpeted floors with the spongy mat tiles from the current studio. The building also has a small grassy lawn area out front, which Kaemmerlen is eyeing as a possible space to incorporate into future classes or events.

“The hardest thing is we need to be able to hang harnesses,” Flentke said — safety equipment anchored to the cross-beams that support the ceiling of the original warehouse. The new site has an office-style false ceiling that will need to be removed to provide that access, Kaemmerlen said.

The move from downtown won’t be an issue in terms of client access, Flentke said, because most clients drive in anyway. Boomerang’s specialized therapy approach draws clients from all over the Portland metro region, and as far away as Hood River; the new site’s location is perfect for Boomerang’s client base, she said.

Boomerang closed down its physical operations at the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and switched to a telehealth model. But it reopened in May 2020 with new safety protocols in place after some of the patients struggled to maintain their health without the in-person visits.

This won’t be the first move for Boomerang, although it will be the first at full scale. The company moved into its downtown location after operating out of its original home in The Quarry Senior Living facility, according to Flentke.

Boomerang has amassed a large amount of equipment since then as it grew into the downtown space, so the moving operation will be complicated. But Kaemmerlen said the co-owners hope to get it done in just a few days, with only a week in total between when the downtown site closes and the new site opens.

The good news is not everything will need to be fully disassembled to fit through the doorways, Flentke added; the co-owners have permission to cut into some of the interior walls if necessary.

The current Boomerang building has one additional tenant: the local radio station KXRW, which uses a small corner of Boomerang’s space as a recording studio. KXRW President Susan Galaviz said her team has been working with Kiggins Theatre owner Dan Wyatt to secure a new space in a property near the theater, although the details are still being worked out.

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