In October 2012, the City of Richmond negotiated a $40 million deal with the Washington Redskins and the Bon Secours Virginia Health System to build a Redskins training camp in the city. The complex deal had many moving parts. To make it happen, the city gave Bon Secours a long-term lease on the property of the old Westhampton School site so it could build a medical facility in the city’s prosperous West End. In exchange for favorable lease terms and the right to sponsor the training camp, the Richmond-based health system agreed to construct a medical office and fitness center in the poor, inner-city East End where it also operated the Richmond Community Hospital.
“This agreement will allow Bon Secours to significantly expand upon our effort to build healthier communities across Richmond,” CEO Peter J. Bernard said in a news release at the time.
Bon Secours did build the fitness center. But nearly a decade later, no ground has broken for the medical office, nor has the nonprofit company undertaken the training of East End residents to work there, which it also had promised.
Time is running out for the company to make good on its agreement, warn Michael Schewel, former executive vice president of Tredegar Corp., who served as Secretary of Commerce and Trade under Governor Mark Warner, and Steve Markel, vice chairman of the Markel Corp.
“They’ve gotten an extension from the EDA (Economic Development Authority) and they’re absolutely at the end of their time,” says Schewel. “They’ve got to get a building permit, build a building, hire people, and get it done within a year of Jan. 1. It takes six months just to get a building permit from the city!“