Pet projects: Vet practice, boarding chain expand with new Richmond facilities

Partner Veterinary President Christine Stafford, left, and CEO Katie Brooks. (Image courtesy of Partner Veterinary)

Two companies that serve four-legged customers are expanding in the Richmond region, one an up-and-coming local veterinary practice and the other a pet boarding chain from the Sunshine State.

Construction is underway on locally based Partner Veterinary’s Emergency & Specialty Center at 1616 Three Chopt Road, a sliver of the roadway in eastern Goochland County near Short Pump.

The 20,000-square-foot, new-construction emergency center is expected to cost $10.5 million to build and equip. The facility is slated to open in June 2023 and will add to the practice’s initial urgent care center at 6506 W. Broad St. in Henrico, which opened earlier this year.

The new clinic is planned to offer 24-hour emergency care. The facility’s specialty care arm is planned to provide internal medicine, oncology, surgery services and more.

Partner originally sought to take over an existing commercial space for the emergency center, but found it difficult to locate a facility that was the right size, company President Christine Stafford said.

“I thought during COVID we’d have the ability to find a shell but we looked for a year and couldn’t find one,” Stafford said. “We were just looking for space and honestly we were open to anywhere.”

It settled on building from scratch on the Three Chopt parcel owned by a real estate investment group called Abis Four Rings, where Stafford is a part-owner. The group is covering the $8 million construction price tag while Partner plans to put up the $2.5 million for equipment. Partner will lease the property.

Partner Veterinary has started construction on a new emergency center in eastern Goochland. Rendering by 510 Architects.

Abis acquired the 1.5-acre property at no cost from LJP Properties in a deal that was recorded with Goochland in early August, according to online county records. Stafford declined to comment on the structure of the deal. The new building is being designed by 510 Architects.

Partner’s original urgent care center, which had been home to other veterinary practices in the past, is owned by Willow 13 Properties, which has some common investors with Abis, Stafford said. Partner leases the building and plans to continue to operate the urgent care facility there once the emergency center opens.

Partner has around 40 employees and Stafford said the company expects to have about 70 employees total between the two locations within the next two years.

She said the company sees plenty of demand and has plans to open additional emergency centers with in-house urgent care services in Raleigh, Charlotte and Atlanta.

“There are too many pets and not enough veterinarians,” she said.

Stafford said that she and CEO Katie Brooks both have decades of experience in the industry. She said they were inspired to launch Partner as an alternative to large chains. Stafford isn’t a vet but has experience in developing private veterinary practices and training leadership teams.

“We’ve both been doing this a long time and there’s a big need for new ownership to come to our industry. There’s a lot of consolidation by private equity groups,” Stafford said. “It has created a space for us to do something different.”

Florida-based pet boarding chain opens new location in Bon Air

Pet Paradise opened in October at 1214 Koger Center Blvd. in Bon Air. (Photo courtesy of Pet Paradise)

Meanwhile, a large chain of pet boarding-veterinary practice combo facilities has opened the doors to Richmond-area outposts that have been several years in the making.

Jacksonville, Florida-based Pet Paradise opened in October its second Richmond-area location at 1214 Koger Center Blvd. in Bon Air.

That 16,400-square-foot location follows the company’s first local outpost, which opened in July at 4101 Williamsburg Road near Richmond International Airport.

The Chesterfield outpost was the company’s 52nd location, all of which are corporately owned.

“Our strategy is high-growth markets and that’s primarily in the southeast region of the U.S. We’re in Charlottesville, that was an acquisition, and in looking at other markets Richmond fit the bill. It’s the capital, it has nice growth and demographics,” Pet Paradise CEO Fernando Acosta-Rua said.

Both Richmond-area locations were ground-up builds. The company’s locations range in total investment from $6 million to $7 million apiece, a figure that includes land acquisition and buildout as well as soft costs, he said.

Pet Paradise provides daycare, boarding and grooming services for dogs and cats in addition to veterinary care. Pet Paradise locations feature outdoor turf areas and swimming pools. The company’s in-house veterinary brand NewDay Veterinary Care has a presence at both Richmond-area locations.

“That’s really our model, to offer complete pet care under one roof,” Acosta-Rua said.

The company is interested in further expansion in the Richmond region but Acosta-Rua declined to share details of what those plans look like.

Pet Paradise leases its properties from Store Capital, an Arizona-based REIT. Pet Paradise identifies properties for its expansion, which Store Capital acquires and develops on behalf of its customer.

Pet Paradise launched 20 years ago as a pet boarding company and has added additional services over the years. Veterinary services began to roll out in 2017.

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