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Bon Secours breaks ground on Westhampton School redevelopment project, restoration of historic schoolhouse

The project includes the restoration of the circa-1917 schoolhouse, construction of a medical office building, and includes retail and residential as well. Construction on the first phase will be complete in the fall of 2020.

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Bon Secours, in partnership with VCU Health and Thalhimer Realty Partners, held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday to celebrate the beginning of the redevelopment of the Westhampton School property.

Bon Secours will build a three-story, 55,000 square foot Medical Office Building (MOB) along Libbie Avenue, with Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) as one of the anchoring tenants. The MOB will maximize the combined outpatient resources of the two health systems to enhance access to quality pediatric care and improve the health and well-being of children in central Virginia. Construction will be complete by the fall of 2020. Nearly 90 percent of pediatric care takes place in the outpatient setting and the new MOB will improve access and convenience for patients and their families, officials with Bon Secours said.

The total economic benefit Bon Secours will provide to the City of Richmond through its economic development agreement with the city and the Economic Development Authority of Richmond, in relation to the Westhampton School property, will include $53.3 million in development capital; 120+ full-time jobs with a payroll of at least $10.8 million; and a projected incremental real estate tax revenue increase of $524,184. Bon Secours waived its nonprofit real estate tax exempt status on the Westhampton School parcel as well.

“Extending the campus of Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital to the Libbie and Patterson corridor, while collaborating with CHoR to meet the health care needs of this community, elevates the care we can provide to pediatric patients and their families,” said Francine Barr, president of Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital. “This MOB is part of a broader collaboration that combines the compassionate ministry of Bon Secours with the research and academic protocols from CHoR into one facility just for kids.”

“Breaking ground on this outpatient building is an important step in the strategic collaboration with our colleagues at Bon Secours aimed at ensuring quality and timely access to pediatric care,” said Elias Neujahr, CEO of Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. “By sharing our strengths, we’re improving the health of children in our community and that’s what it’s all about.”

The oldest structure on the property, the 1917 school building at the corner of Patterson and Libbie Avenues, will be renovated into office and retail space, while the remainder of the school footprint will be demolished and a new building built in its place with mixed-use medical, retail, business and residential redevelopment in a partnership with Bon Secours and Thalhimer Realty Partners, Inc. A parking deck, off-street surface parking, a community green space, a memorial plaza, and two lawns will round out the development.

The athletic fields adjacent to the school buildings are not part of the land leased to Bon Secours. Bon Secours pays the City of Richmond $28,000 per year for the maintenance of the playing fields, and they will remain intact as athletic fields for the community.

“The Colonial Revival architecture of the 1917 school building will be maintained in this renovation and redevelopment project,” said Jason Guillot, principal, Thalhimer Realty Partners. “We worked closely with the community during a series of three public input sessions held prior to submitting our Plan of Development with the city’s planning office. We integrated that feedback into our site plan and architectural design to ensure we retain the character of the neighborhood while creating a pedestrian-oriented design that encourages safe walking and biking, abundant parking, community space and amenities and streetscape improvements that will bring new life to this corridor.”

Bon Secours appointed a Westhampton Commemoration Panel of community members and Westhampton School alumni to provide recommendations for properly commemorating the historic significance of the school, its architecture, and the important events that have occurred on the site.

At today’s groundbreaking ceremony, the panel’s concept was introduced for the first time. A more detailed presentation of the panel’s recommendation will be presented to the community in the coming months.

Bon Secours has a 60-year land lease with two 20 year options for renewal on the Westhampton School property. Bon Secours obtained the lease in 2013 through a three-site economic development agreement with the city of Richmond and the Economic Development Authority of Richmond. The agreement compels investments by Bon Secours to bring jobs, capital, tax revenue, and renewal to Westhampton, Leigh Street, and around the campus of Bon Secours Richmond Community Hospital in the East End.

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Trevor Dickerson is the co-founder and editor of RVAhub.com, lover of all things Richmond, and a master of karate and friendship for everyone.

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Tom Leonard’s Farmer’s Market planning to double size of Short Pump store

Construction on an expansion of the locally-owned store should commence this Spring.

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From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Tom Leonard’s Farmer’s Market, which has operated in western Henrico County since 2004, is getting bigger.

The 15,000-square-foot market will nearly double in size when the store expansion project is completed later this year, owner Tom Leonard said.

Construction should begin late in the spring.

The expansion will take over the tented area to the left of the store – where pumpkins and Christmas trees are typically sold.

The added space will enable the market, off Tom Leonard Drive, to expand and move its bakery and deli departments into the new space. The bakery will be able to make fresh-boiled bagels – “the way they do them in New York,” Leonard said.

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Richmond-based company launching digital TV streaming network today with event at VMHC

Richmond-based Soulidifly Productions will launch the new streaming TV network today and is throwing a launch party tonight in celebration.

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Richmond based Soulidifly Productions is launching a new digital TV streaming network today known as SoulVision.TV. The new network will feature over 200 hours of “authentic, positive, and often untold human stories shown in feature films and movies, TV shows, news, interviews, cartoons, and more,” according to a news release.

The network will be accessible from all devices including all leading streaming platforms – Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire – and on all mobile platforms, tablets and other devices including smart TVs and home computers.

Entertainers Cecily, Carla Jackson, JJ Squire, and vocalist Imani Waters will headline an event this evening at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture ahead of the network’s launch.

The event takes place beginning at 6:30 PM at the museum at 428 N. Arthur Ashe Boulevard. Tickets are $20; $10 for students. Attendees can also get complimentary tickets by entering code “SVTV” on the ticketing page.

Learn more and get tickets here and check out a preview of the new network below.

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Henrico clears the way for redevelopment of Azalea Mall, Virginia Center Commons sites

Two derelict properties in the Northside of town will soon have new life breathed into them as Henrico greenlit their redevelopment Tuesday.

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From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

As Henrico County officials are preparing for the redevelopment of Virginia Center Commons with a public arena, the operators of a senior living community are ready to expand on top of land where another county mall was demolished in 1999.

On Tuesday, the Henrico Board of Supervisors approved zoning and permit changes to let Westminster Canterbury of Richmond expand its continuing-care retirement community over part of the lot where Azalea Mall once stood. The board also voted to authorize the use of $50 million to build an indoor sports arena at Virginia Center Commons.

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