The Daily Planet, a local nonprofit clinic that offers medical, dental and vision care to Richmond’s homeless population, is once again searching for a location to open a satellite facility.
In September, the clinic filed plans with the city to convert a 9,400-square-foot former art gallery at 1312 Bainbridge St. in Manchester into the new medical respite facility. But the city planning commission declined to support the project.
“It feels like we’re back to the drawing board,” executive director Peter Prizzio said. “We serve a population that is not always understood by the community, but we provide a very important service.”
Prizzio said the new space would eventually house the Daily Planet’s medical respite program, which supports patients who are healthy enough to be discharged from a hospital but don’t have a secure place to continue their recovery.
“It was designed to prevent these people from ending up back in the hospital,” Prizzio said. “We keep recuperating patients in a safe, stable environment.”
According to a letter from the planning commission to clinic, the proposed use of the building was not in line with the overall development plan for the surrounding neighborhood.
“The proposed facility would not be limited to serving the everyday convenience needs of the residents in the neighborhood, but would likely result in traffic, noise and other impacts that result when patients are drawn from outside the neighborhood,” the letter said.
The project also drew opposition from the Manchester Alliance neighborhood association. Alliance president David Bass said the proposed use conflicts with goals the alliance has for the neighborhood’s development.
“We support the mission of the Daily Planet, but we don’t think it’s compatible with our neighborhood,” Bass said. “The current zoning plan doesn’t allow the type of social service program they’re proposing, and the building is surrounded by single family homes.”
Daily Planet’s medical respite program launched in 2008 and currently operates out of the Rubicon building at 1700 Front St. Prizzio said the space was never meant to house the program permanently, and the clinic is looking to upgrade to a more state-of-the-art facility.
Daily Planet chief operating officer Maureen Neal said about 23 percent of the Daily Planet’s patients come from the 23224 Zip code, which includes the Manchester area.
The Daily Planet can continue to petition the city council to use the space, but Prizzio said he’s unsure how the organization is going to proceed.