Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Horizons Ignores Roanoke Professionals for new Building

New Horizons construction is underway with a Richmond-based architect/engineer.
There's a budding new militancy among engineers, architects and construction people in the Roanoke Valley that I'm liking. In the past, they have been reluctant to say anything when contracts for major projects went to firms outside the region, even when their proposals were obviously far better.

No more. We just had a great commentary from Spectrum's John Garland about the Roanoke City Market Building and the result of an outside architect's efforts (yuck!) and now Richard Rife of Rife + Wood weighs in on the New Horizons building, which just broke ground. We talked about this a couple of months ago, but Richard is in the profession and his voice is important. New Horizons is building a 32,000 square foot, $10.7 million facility that will specialize in health care for the poor. The facility has operated out of a LewisGale clinic at Valley View Mall for the past few years.

The building is being built primarily with federal Affordable Care Act money.

Here's what Richard had to say in a letter to me:

"Continuing on your 'hire local' theme, New Horizons interviewed at least six design/build teams to design and construct their new building. Five featured locally-based architect/engineers and general contractors. They picked the one with no local presence. The architect is Baskervill from Richmond.

"We were teamed with Lionberger Construction, who is probably the most community-oriented GC in the Valley as far as supporting local charities, etc. Several of Lionberger's and the other competing contractors' employees are New Horizons patients and would have brought a little extra pride to building the facility where they and their families go for medical services.

"New Horizons is a great organization and we were very disappointed to not be selected to work with them. Undoubtedly, the New Horizons staff and board members who made this decision acted in what they felt was the best interests of their organization and its patients. They will undoubtedly end up with a fine facility that will serve them well. What they won't get is a locally-based A/E and GC who will be here, in the Roanoke Valley, to support them in the future."

It is my guess that the more this issue is aired and the more pressure boards feel to at least give locals a chance, the better off we all will be. We are sitting on the edge of a new movement in the Roanoke Valley that will give substance and priority to taking care of our own businesses and professionals first, not just because they're here, but because they are as good as anybody in the country.

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