During an open house Wednesday, officials with Passport Health Plan showed off new renderings of its planned headquarters at 18th Street and West Broadway and talked about possibly accelerating its timeline for completion.
Passport broke ground on its new headquarters in March, and the project is being done in two phases.
The first phase, expected to wrap up in 2020, includes a four-story, 340,000-square-foot health and human services building, which will feature public areas on the first floor, including a 500-person multi-purpose room and a plaza with space for food trucks. Phase one also includes a six-story parking garage.
The size of the parking garage has increased from five levels to six in part to deal with advancements regarding phase two of the project, which will bring amenities like retail, pharmacy, grocery and restaurants to the area, said Passport Director of Communications Michael A. Rabkin.
“We’re hearing so much incredible input and interest from our community partners about relocating, that the second phase, which is the rest of the campus, might be moving up. It might not be so much a 10-year project, but a two-year project in some of these instances. So, it is coming along very quickly and making some progress,” Rabkin added.
During Wednesday’s open house, residents were able to mingle freely with Passport’s executives, contractors and partners. Rabkin said the event was an opportunity for the company to introduce itself to the neighborhood and allow residents to have their questions answered directly by the people most knowledgeable about the project.
Derrick Duncan said he appreciates the transparency and amount of community engagement Passport has shown. Duncan is an executive assistant for Jesus and a Job, a program that helps ex-felons integrate back into the community by helping them find employment. He told Insider that he expects the Passport project and the new YMCA to be transformational.
“I see this as having an impact on the immediate neighborhood and the city as a whole. I really see the ramifications of this going out because you are bringing people in and you’re giving them hope and new opportunity. Some people in this neighborhood have never had this kind of resources available to them. We’ve been working hand in hand with Passport and a lot of these other entities coming in trying to get these people trained and get them jobs,” Duncan added.
Passport has partnered with local minority-owned TKT & Associates, which specializes in contracting minority and women-owned businesses, to make sure there is fair representation in the hiring process. Mary Pat Regan, the chief operating officer of TKT, said her company will host a job fair in January to help fill positions.
Passport’s hiring goals for the project is 20 percent minority and five percent women for all the contractors and suppliers on project, Regan said.
Wayne McCauley, a business agent for Labors International Union Local 576, represents contractors and construction workers who already have contracts with Passport and some who plan to bid on future work, but McCauley wasn’t at the Passport open house just for business. He grew up on 34th Street and Vermont Avenue, and he said he wanted to celebrate with his neighbors something that they’d wanted for a long time.
“Since I was a kid going to my grandmother’s house, we’ve needed this kind of development,” McCauley said. “A lot of people might think us union guys aren’t for the community, but they need to realize that a lot of us are from this community. We care about it too.”