VUU updates plan for historic Richmond Community Hospital

George Copeland Jr. | 4/18/2024, 6 p.m.
New plans appear to be underway for the former Richmond Community Hospital, following weeks of questions and changes over recent …

New plans appear to be underway for the former Richmond Community Hospital, following weeks of questions and changes over recent decisions surrounding the site and its place in the city. The hospital is owned by Virginia Union University.

During VUU’s Legacy Awards Gala on April 5 at the Richmond Convention Center, Tawan Davis, founding partner and CEO of the Steinbridge Group announced changes to its $42 million partnership with VUU and plans for the former hospital.

“In addition to what we have already committed, we are setting aside part of our commitment to honor the history, particularly the history of the Richmond Community Hospital at Virginia Union,” Mr. Davis said, “with a $5.1 million commitment from our existing commitment to honor all those who were born, and worked, and built Virginia Union University, and this hospital, through its 160-year history.”

The announcement came after weeks of community pushback and outreach over

the proposed plans for the building, which initially was to be demolished as part of a housing project north of VUU’s campus.

Viola Baskerville, a former legislator and cofounder of the Save Community Hospital group, criticized the announcement. In a post on the group’s social media page, she corrected the date for when the hospital was built and called for clarity on the situation.

“What does ‘honor the history’ mean?” Ms. Baskerville wrote. “The community needs to hear specifics! Historic Richmond’s twice-made offer to assess the structure needs to be accepted as a credible first step toward community engagement.”

“Is the money going to Virginia Union, not to efforts directly related to saving and incorporating the 1932 structure into VUU’s development plans? Clarification is needed.”

When asked for specifics on the Steinbridge Group and VUU’s plans for the

hospital building, a university spokesperson said that a team will announce an engagement process to help determine what this commitment will look like in practice and when it will begin.

That process will involve “continuing to listen to community leaders, historians, and local organizations,” alongside a wide range of groups and voices with interests in the building and housing project. The spokesperson also reiterated VUU and the Steinbridge Group’s commitment to the adaptive reuse of the hospital building, which they said should include “at least the building’s façade, and likely more.”

“The University will announce the team members, including architects, engineers, builders, and others,” the spokesperson said. “Then, the University will announce plans to engage various constituency groups.”

“This will invite more voices beyond those who have spoken so far. In particular, it will include the voices of students who have expressed a deep wish for more housing options in the area.”

VUU added it will share designs for the site publicly after final plans have been put in place.