NORFOLK (WAVY) – Take a look at the quarter-acre of land that Dr. Travis O’Bannon owns near Campostella Road and you’ll see broken concrete, overgrown weeds and power lines lurking overhead.
But for O’Bannon, it’s the stuff of dreams.
O’Bannon wants to “make an impact in the community that I was born and raised in.”
Here in the dirt are roots that go back a couple generations in his family.
“My grandfather purchased this land before I was born,” O’Bannon said. “It was passed down to his kids, and my mother was the one that would take care of it while she was alive” until she died of cancer in 2018.
The graduate of Granby High, VCU and the Pharmacy School at Hampton University said his old neighborhood adjacent to Interstate 264 and Norfolk State is majority African-American, low to middle-income and underserved by the big pharmacy chains, so he wants to open his own independent pharmacy.
“They don’t have the access or even the chance to be connected with their provider on a daily basis,” O’Bannon said in a Friday morning interview at the site, “so why not actually come back to my community and build where I’m from, and take care of the community that actually pushed me to become a pharmacist?”
But here’s the challenge.
It’s zoned industrial, and O’Bannon’s neighbor Titan America, a building materials company, owns the land on both sides of his quarter-acre lot. His dream can’t materialize unless he can convince the city of Norfolk to rezone the land to commercial.
His next step is a presentation to the city Planning Commission April 27, and he’s looking for all the support he can gather. If he gets approval, he figures it will cost about $1 million and take about a year to build an independent pharmacy in that Norfolk neighborhood.