On February 4, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia, officials from Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, The Doorways and Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) of Richmond released more details on a proposed complex in the Navy Hill redevelopment project.
The project would help revitalize the neighborhood by providing urgently needed facilities and services for patients and their families, employees, students and visitors to downtown Richmond.
The complex involves redeveloping Block D of the Navy Hill District, between 9th and 10th streets from Leigh to Clay streets. This block previously supported the Richmond Public Services building.
“There is tremendous potential to develop this section of Richmond into a thriving urban center that will generate much needed tax revenue for the city,” said Michael Rao, president of VCU and VCU Health System.
“Over the past few years VCU has invested more than $1 billion to improve one of the mid-Atlantic’s most important academic medical centers with the hope that the neighborhood surrounding it will share in the city’s renaissance,” he added.
The proposed plan would involve a public-private partnership that involves the sale of D Block by the city to a private developer so the complex would be taxable. The facilities would be built to the specifications of the partners with a long-term lease.
The redevelopment would currently include:
- 250 physician-faculty office spaces for the adjacent VCU Medical Center adult outpatient pavilion;
- Replacement facilities for The Doorways;
- New Ronald McDonald House for Richmond;
- Child care;
- Retail pharmacy;
- Retail shopping and dining locations;
- Other innovative and health care-related spaces; and
- More than 1,500 parking spaces to support programs housed in the complex.
“VCU and VCU Health System continue to strongly support redevelopment of the Navy Hill area that is critically important, especially with the current construction of the new children’s inpatient hospital and the adult outpatient pavilion,” said Melinda Hancock, chief administrative and financial officer of the VCU Health System.
“Bringing together this partnership of VCU Health, The Doorways and RMHC Richmond enables us to leverage our resources and our missions to better serve patients and families from the Richmond area and beyond,” she continued.
The Doorways is one of the largest hospital hospitality houses in the nation, providing more than 50,000 nights of lodging to about 10,000 children and adults each year. The organization’s current building, located in the 600 block of East Marshall Street, is well past its prime at 55 years old and located near the vacated coliseum and Blues Armory building.
Stacy Brinkley, president and CEO of The Doorways, said that the current facility is at capacity, forcing the organization to frequently turn away patients and families who need a place to stay. “Many of our guests tell us they would have to forgo the medical treatment they need if it weren’t for a place like The Doorways,” she said.
“Our aging building, combined with the evolving needs of our guests, makes our relocation to a larger and new building critical to our role serving the larger community,” Brinkley explained. “The proposed relocation to Block D will provide our guests with closer and more convenient access to their medical providers, as well as amenities such as pharmacies, grocery stores, and green space. It will allow our guests to feel less isolated and cut off from neighborhood amenities that can make an extended stay less stressful.”
The demand for services also exceeds current capacity at RMHC of Richmond, located on Monument Ave. In 2019, RMHC Richmond hosted families for 2,240 nights of care from 86 counties in Virginia, 22 states across the country and five countries and territories around the world.
“Over the last four decades, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond has provided comfort, support and resources for families with ill or injured children receiving medical treatment at area hospitals and medical facilities. However, the needs of pediatric patient families in our region have grown to seven times the capacity of our current Ronald McDonald House,” said Kerry Blumberg, RMHC Richmond executive director.
The newly proposed Ronald McDonald House of Richmond would elevate the community’s ability to serve as a hub for family-centered care. With enhanced facilities that feature immune-compromised suites, new community and family spaces, and dozens of new sleep rooms, the house will be equipped to provide greater support to pediatric patient families, ultimately reducing the emotional and financial burdens of having a child in medical crisis.
“Research shows the close proximity of a Ronald McDonald House to the hospital enhances a family’s psychological well-being by keeping them close together and providing emotional and physical comfort and support. By giving families the ability to spend more time with their sick children, they are able to interact with their doctors and make important decisions about their children’s care,” Blumberg said.
“Over the coming months and with the support of the community, donors and key partnerships, RMHC Richmond is dedicated to helping even more families with children receiving vital medical care just footsteps away at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU,” she added.
VCU Health System’s Hancock said the need for the complex is urgent for all of the parties involved. “When planning discussions began, we were hopeful for a 2021 building open. VCU Health System, The Doorways and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond will continue to work with the Richmond city administration and City Council on this important redevelopment plan,” she concluded.
Image credit: Capital City Partners, LLC, and SMBW.
UPDATE: The Navy Hill project has been killed by the Richmond City Council.
Here’s an April 10, 2020 article explaining why.