With deadline looming, Planning Commission punts Westhampton School rezoning

westhampton school

Bon Secours originally planned for Westhampton School to be transformed into a nursing college. (J. Elias O’Neal)

A delayed vote Monday has put the city and Bon Secours Richmond at risk of missing an agreed-upon July 1 deadline to decide the fate of the former Westhampton School property — and it’s unclear what the consequences could be.

The Richmond Planning Commission voted Monday to hold off its recommendation on the health system’s request to rezone the property at Patterson and Libbie avenues. Bon Secours needs the rezoning to build a three-story, 55,000-square-foot medical office building on a parcel adjacent to the existing school structure and allow developers to pitch ideas for the rest of the site.

Part of a 2013 lease agreement between the city and Bon Secours included a five-year deadline to determine the property’s use. They now face missing that July 1 deadline, as commission Chairman Rodney Poole said Monday’s continuance means the City Council could not consider a recommendation before that day.

Council is scheduled to hear the request at its next meeting June 25, but Poole said it could not take action without a recommendation from the commission.

“There is no question this will not permit this matter to go to City Council before July 1,” Poole said.

Bon Secours is seeking to rezone 6 acres from R-4 Single-Family Residential to B-7 Mixed-Use Business District as it mulls what to do with the property.

Several dozen area residents attended and spoke at Monday’s meeting.

Rezoning opponents, including representatives of nearby neighborhood associations, voiced concerns about traffic, parking and preserving the school building’s facade.

A representative from the Westhampton Merchant’s Association spoke in support of rezoning, stating that the vacant building is an eyesore and not serving the neighborhood.

Some commission members said they believed more due diligence is necessary before deciding whether to rezone the property. Bon Secours said it has received 11 proposals from developers but has not disclosed any details.

Some citizens and commission members said they think a special-use permit would be a viable alternative to rezoning, as that process would require more transparency about what redevelopment of the school building would look like.

Bon Secours has not committed to preserving the existing buildings, but has said repeatedly that preference would be given to developments that preserve the oldest part of the school. In 2016, Bon Secours scrapped plans to turn the school structure into a medical office building and move its nursing school to the property.

westhampton school

Bon Secours originally planned for Westhampton School to be transformed into a nursing college. (J. Elias O’Neal)

A delayed vote Monday has put the city and Bon Secours Richmond at risk of missing an agreed-upon July 1 deadline to decide the fate of the former Westhampton School property — and it’s unclear what the consequences could be.

The Richmond Planning Commission voted Monday to hold off its recommendation on the health system’s request to rezone the property at Patterson and Libbie avenues. Bon Secours needs the rezoning to build a three-story, 55,000-square-foot medical office building on a parcel adjacent to the existing school structure and allow developers to pitch ideas for the rest of the site.

Part of a 2013 lease agreement between the city and Bon Secours included a five-year deadline to determine the property’s use. They now face missing that July 1 deadline, as commission Chairman Rodney Poole said Monday’s continuance means the City Council could not consider a recommendation before that day.

Council is scheduled to hear the request at its next meeting June 25, but Poole said it could not take action without a recommendation from the commission.

“There is no question this will not permit this matter to go to City Council before July 1,” Poole said.

Bon Secours is seeking to rezone 6 acres from R-4 Single-Family Residential to B-7 Mixed-Use Business District as it mulls what to do with the property.

Several dozen area residents attended and spoke at Monday’s meeting.

Rezoning opponents, including representatives of nearby neighborhood associations, voiced concerns about traffic, parking and preserving the school building’s facade.

A representative from the Westhampton Merchant’s Association spoke in support of rezoning, stating that the vacant building is an eyesore and not serving the neighborhood.

Some commission members said they believed more due diligence is necessary before deciding whether to rezone the property. Bon Secours said it has received 11 proposals from developers but has not disclosed any details.

Some citizens and commission members said they think a special-use permit would be a viable alternative to rezoning, as that process would require more transparency about what redevelopment of the school building would look like.

Bon Secours has not committed to preserving the existing buildings, but has said repeatedly that preference would be given to developments that preserve the oldest part of the school. In 2016, Bon Secours scrapped plans to turn the school structure into a medical office building and move its nursing school to the property.

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Frank Smith
Frank Smith
4 years ago

EDITOR, fix please…
“Eight people spoke against the rezoning application, and three spoke against it.”
Humorously, you could have said ‘All spoke against it,’ although, I’m not sure that’s what you meant.

John Thompson
John Thompson
4 years ago

Not sure why everyone is so up in arms about the area being redeveloped into a hospital that an increasingly aging demographic in that neighborhood relies on. In fact one of the big selling points is the hospital. This building is unremarkable tear it town build something that’s functional and that serves the community

Fred Squire
Fred Squire
4 years ago
Reply to  John Thompson

It’s the nature of doing business in the City of Richmond. Why build something new and useful to the community when you can argue about it for months or years and ultimately do nothing but leave a rotting building. Maybe certain contractors weren’t consulted for proposals so they complained to the city about lack of participation. Maybe the city wants more $ from Bon Secours to help retire the $8.6 million debt on the redskins park before they agree to let them move on westhampton. Who knows. What I do know is that ultimately the working taxpayer who lives in… Read more »