Community pharmacy wins tender for former BofA branch at Six Points
The successful bidder was selected as part of the competitive bidding process to guide the future of a vacant former bank branch in the Highland Park area.
The Southside-based nonprofit HandUp Community Resource Center has been selected in recent weeks to convert the former Bank of America branch at 1307 E. Brookland Park Blvd. in a community pharmacy.
Dubbed Six Points Health Hub, the center would offer primary and preventive care in addition to being a retail pharmacy.
HandUp made the winning speech in a tender run by the Richmond Land Bank, a program administered by the nonprofit Maggie Walker Community Land Trust.
The land bank has owned the 4,800 square foot building since 2019, receiving it through a donation from BofA. The banking giant closed the branch in 2017.
Seeing the building as an anchor for the neighborhood’s Six Points section, the land bank decided to accept offers for the redevelopment of the property and assess the community on what was most needed. Suggestions included a grocery store or farmers market, restaurant, cafe, cafe or bakery, community center or doctor’s office.
The group then issued a call for tenders in June, to which two proposals were selected as finalists. HandUp beat Bantu Global Commodities’ pitch to convert the building into a restaurant and community market concept.
The effort would add to HandUp’s existing operations, including a pantry off Midlothian Turnpike, veterans assistance programs and housing.
Augusta Hite, head of HandUp, could not be reached for comment before press time.
Julia MacNelly, program director for the land bank and MWCLT, said the groups were currently in negotiations with HandUp to take over the property and begin its renovations.
HandUp will lease the property to begin with, rather than buying it right away as the land bank had originally requested as part of the RFP.
MacNelly said the lease would last from 1 to 3 years as the health center is established, with an option for HandUp to purchase the building along the way.
MacNelly said the lease would allow HandUp’s flexibility as it tests a new business model for the center.
âIt’s a not-for-profit pharmacy model so people can access prescriptions regardless of their ability to pay. The lease was a way for them to gain a foothold with this new model, âsaid MacNelly.
âOur end goal is for the successful candidate to be successful. It is important to have good vision but to have resistance, âadded MacNelly. âWe wanted to steer this process towards something that would become an anchor of the neighborhood that would stay for a long time. “
A start date for the renovations is still pending, but MacNelly said he hoped the hub would potentially open by the middle of next year.
The bank building is the first commercial property that the land bank has dealt with since its creation in 2018. It is also the first time that it has received a property as a direct donation. Most of the properties he deals with are vacant and abandoned and come from the city through foreclosures related to tax crime.
MacNelly said the group hopes to continue exploring the idea of ââincorporating commercial properties into their efforts.