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Bon Secours to build 55,000-square-foot medical office building in Richmond

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Bon Secours Richmond Health System plans to build a 55,000-square-foot medical office building on land it leases from the city of Richmond.

The new building would sit next to a vacant city school that the health system originally planned to renovate into a nursing school. Now Bon Secours is seeking a partner to redevelop the school, with the aim of preserving at least the oldest section of the historic building.

Toni Arabell, the CEO of Bon Secours Virginia, described the proposal as a “win for everyone.”

In 2012, Bon Secours negotiated a 60-year lease for the Westhampton School property to accommodate the expanding campus of nearby Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital. The arrangement was part of deal that made the health system a major sponsor of the Washington Redskins training camp in Richmond.

Francine Barr, CEO of Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital, unveiled renderings on Thursday showing the proposed three-story, brick medical office building on Libbie Avenue that would be constructed in the same architectural style as the school. 

The health system had planned to house its nursing school in the vacant Westhampton structure, which had wings constructed in 1917 and 1935.

In December, however, Bon Secours announced that the cost of converting the city school building would be prohibitive and proposed tearing down the building to make way for a medical office building. The proposal angered city officials and residents of the Westhampton neighborhood, which takes its name from the school.

The latest plan would position the medical office building next to the school, which would redeveloped for other uses.

Rhodes Ritenour, vice president for external affairs at Bon Secours Richmond, said the health system has not speculated on possible projects for the school building. 

The guidelines set by Bon Secours for any projects include:

• They must be in keeping with Bon Secours' Roman Catholic values (i.e., no abortion clinics).

• They must complement the health care provided by the St. Mary’s campus.

• They must endeavor to preserve at least the most historic part of the school building, its 100-year-old wing.

Bon Secours officials did not disclose cost estimates for the new office building and said they have not determined what medical specialties it would house.

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