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Bon Secours seeks to rezone Westhampton School property for redevelopment, community comments on proposed uses

The organization has been directed by the city to preserve the circa-1917 school if financially feasible, as Councilman Addison releases survey results revealing the way the community would like to see the site used.

Trevor Dickerson

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We reported back in January that Bon Secours is moving forward with plans to redevelop the Westhampton School property at Patterson and Libbie Avenues in the Near West End. Now, First District Richmond City Councilman Andreas Addison is shedding more light on what might be done with the site after sharing results of a survey that asked residents what they would support or not support on the property.

The health system has applied to rezone the property in the Near West End, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. There’s no guarantee the historic structures will remain intact, but the organization’s agreement with the city requires them to attempt to preserve them unless it’s deemed too costly or otherwise burdensome to do so.

The oldest portion of the school dates to 1917; the second to 1935. The former was the site of Daisy Jane Cooper’s act of breaking the segregation barrier of Richmond Public Schools, a building that Councilman Addison calls “a pillar of the community, our resilience, and unity.”

The hospital system originally intended to demolish both after coming to the conclusion that rehabilitation of the aging structures would cost more than new construction. Neighbors and City Councilman Andreas Addison spoke in opposition to those plans, citing the school’s historic nature and architecture.

As for now, a free-standing medical office building will be built on the site, but more than 700 neighbors, business owners, and other stakeholders completed a survey exploring the possible uses of the site’s proposed B-7 zoning designation. The full survey results can be seen here (PDF).

Bon Secours introduced the aforementioned B-7 rezoning application to City Council on Tuesday, May 29th. It will go before the Planning District Commission June 25th. More renderings and a plan of development are expected after that time.

A chief concern for nearby residents is increased traffic from the development, and Councilman Addison has pledged to have a traffic study completed to mitigate concerns.

We’ll continue to follow this story as it unfolds.

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Trevor Dickerson is the Editor and Co-Founder of RVAHub.