Bid comes out to reinvent the old Six Points BofA building in Highland Park
An effort is underway to breathe new life into the former inactive Bank of America branch at 1307 E. Brookland Park Blvd., which the banking giant left four years ago.
With the property now in the hands of the Richmond Land Bank, a program administered by the nonprofit Maggie Walker Community Land Trust, a request for proposals has been issued to suggest ways to redevelop and reuse the 4 building. 800 square feet.
BofA donated the property, which is along the Six Points roundabout, to the Land Bank in 2019. The bank closed the branch in early 2017, much to the chagrin of some in the neighborhood.
For the past two years, groups have sought feedback from neighbors for suggestions on what type of commercial use would best suit the neighborhood.
“The community didn’t want a bodega or a liquor store,” said Erica Sims, CEO of MWCLT. “But they had a very wide range of things that they wanted. It fits very well with the overall revitalization of this hallway and intersection. “
Suggestions included in the RFP included a grocery store or farmer’s market, restaurant, cafe, cafe or bakery, community center or doctor’s office.
The RFP was officially released on June 4, with responses expected on August 2. Respondents would only buy the building. The adjacent parking lot would be kept in perpetuity by the land trust.
Respondents are expected to present their case to the Land Bank Citizens Advisory Committee, which will make a recommendation on November 3.
MWCLT’s board of directors will ultimately choose the end user and enter into a development agreement on November 15.
Regarding the preferential price, the RFP notes that the building is valued at $ 212,000 and that “candidates are encouraged to bid competitively”.
Sims said the bank building is the first commercial property that Land Bank has processed since its inception in 2018. It is also the first time it has received property through direct donation. Most of the properties he deals with are vacant and abandoned and come from the city through foreclosures related to tax crime.
Its goal is to take these properties and put them back into service productively based on community feedback. Much of his work has been to revive abandoned residential properties into affordable housing.
With the BofA building, the Land Bank and MWCLT would be eligible to receive the proceeds of the sale through the RFP. Another plus, Sims said, is that the group is using the process as a sort of test of how they can potentially manage more commercial properties.
“It’s one way of looking at how this process plays out,” Sims said. “I think it could be a valuable tool for anyone who owns a property.”
Laura Lafayette, who chairs the MWCLT board of directors, said she would like to see the group diversify its portfolio beyond the few dozen homes it currently has in its system.
“Commercial properties are one way to do this,” Lafayette said. “It’s exciting to get corporate sector property and a private donation because we want to demonstrate that it’s a viable option, whether it’s businesses or individuals. We are pleased that Bank of America is setting this precedent for us.
She added that BofA helped fund the community engagement process leading up to the RFP.
“We are going to recover the physical asset and be fairly agnostic about its use,” Lafayette said. “It’s really what the community wants and what the building can accommodate. What we do best is acquire the land, sell the land and partner with others.
Lafayette said that since the inception of the land bank, MWCLT has transformed around 50 homes, which have since been sold through other nonprofit housing organizations to low-income buyers. He’s got 60 more in the pipeline
The Six Points BofA building is one of two old bank buildings in this Northside area of the city waiting to be reinvented. The former US National Bank building at 201 W. Brookland Park Blvd. has also remained vacant for years.