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VCU students living north of the Interstate?

Al Harris June 27, 2011 11

An Indiana-based student housing developer is staking its claim in the Richmond market with a $22.4 million apartment complex.

Trinitas Ventures has begun work on an 11-acre plot on Chamberlayne Avenue just across Interstate 95 from Jackson Ward.

Travis Vencel, head of planning and acquisitions for the firm, said Trinitas had been working on the deal for a year.

“We’ve been looking for some time in Richmond for the right place,” Vencel said.

The project, called the Collegiate, consists of six multifamily buildings with a total of 270 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units. The complex will have a clubhouse and a swimming pool. The units will be fully furnished, Vencel said. A shuttle will offer transportation for residents to Virginia Commonwealth University, which is about half a mile away.

Indiana-based construction firm Vizor-Alderson is the general contractor.

Vencel said the project is funded by a combination of traditional bank financing and the firm’s equity partners.

Vencel said his company is opening a leasing office on Broad Street in the next few weeks, during which time they will also finalize the rental rates. The project is slated to be completed in August 2012.

Trinitas isn’t the first group to take a crack at developing the land.

“It had been under contract by another group. They fell away, and we swooped in and redesigned and redefined the project,” Vencel said.

That other group was working with Justin French, who is now serving 16 years in prison for tax credit fraud. French had acquired the property, which was previously a trailer park, and also had planned student housing there.

Trinitas bought the land from an LLC controlled by French for $2.6 million this year, with proceeds being surrendered to the U.S. Attorney for restitution purposes.

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11 Comments »

  1. Morgan Porter June 27, 2011 at 9:13 am - Reply

    Most students won’t want to take a shuttle to school, but having a pool is something most students don’t have access too (unless they want to go to the Richmond City Public Pools). I’ll be interested to see if this works – particularly in that location. From what I remember it isn’t the most desirable place to live.

  2. j acko June 27, 2011 at 11:24 am - Reply

    I agree Morgan, this will be a waste of time and money. VCU students wont live over there again. Also there are pools on campus both public and private.

  3. Northsider June 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm - Reply

    VCU students already live in so called “undesirable” areas…Jackson Ward, Carver, Highland Park, parts of Carytown, etc.

    While i think the location takes away some of the benefits of typical places VCU students live (walking to class, downtown and fan shops, bars, etc.)…there are plenty of students already spread all over that bike, bus, or drive to classes.

    What this location will offer that the typical locations don’t is NEW stuff….pool, clubhouse….

    most these kids live in 100 year old homes in poor shape that have been abused by tenants (other students) for years….in my line of work i enter a good amount of these rental properties, and most are wrecks…now the kids may wreck them, that is for sure…but most have antiquated and run down kitchens and baths….and rents are sky high…

    I think the Richmond apartment market is potentially on it’s way to being flooded….especially with all the new stuff downtown that have opened and in last 12 months and others set to open soon….But people put a lot of research and study into this, and they keep building, and surprisingly most keep a very high occupany percentage…at least so far.

    As someone who lives in the Northside of the city, I welcome any redevelopment or new development in the area…especially near Chamberlayne

  4. Bruce June 27, 2011 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    I was involved with a pioneer of student housing until 2005. We did 1,500+ units (Clemson, Florida, WVU, Texas A&M, NC State, etc.) and always had a cardinal rule: the dog furthest from the bowl usually eats last or eats less.
    Good luck to you.

  5. Jason June 27, 2011 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    Don’t forget folks that this is also close to Virginia Union, Children’s hospital and loads of assisted living facilities and convenient to the interstate system. People are renting now, not buying as this will be a fundamental shift all across America going forward.

  6. Chris June 27, 2011 at 8:07 pm - Reply

    Why is there a question mark on the headline?

  7. joe June 27, 2011 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Wow come on. The boulevard and carytown are further from campus than this. I know you suburbanites dont underestand walking.

  8. jd June 28, 2011 at 6:58 am - Reply

    This project will work. The building is less than 1 mile from the Seigel Center and the walk going South isn’t that bad. It’s the walk North up Chamberlayne that is scary.

  9. Chris Terrell June 28, 2011 at 9:35 am - Reply

    I worked in this specific area for four years and delivered mail throught the Fan and Jackson Ward for another two. A few thoughts from someone who knows the geography inside out:

    This area is indeed no further from VCU than parts of the Fan. But lets not kid ourselves either, a leisurely bike ride down Hanover Avenue and a leisurely bike ride from here are two different experiences. Given that, college students are able to look beyond quite a lot. When I carried mail on West Grace Street between the 1100 and 2800 blocks (from VCU to the Boulevard) there were plenty, and I mean hundreds, of filled apartments that were quite shabby. Especially on the 1100 and 2700 blocks, which are filled with 12 unit apartment buildings. My first college apartment, which I have fond memories of to this day, was a pretty lousy apartment on the 1800 block of West Grace and it was also almost a mile from classes. So I don’t see location being that big an issue in exchange for a new apartment in good condition, especially if the rent is attractively priced. Students can be very flexible about where they live in ways their parents would not be.

    Jason makes a great point about the proximity of Virginia Union, and I have no doubt that if this project succeeds it will be in part because many students living there attend VUU.

    Much of Chamberlayne Avenue north of I-95 is in need of redevelopment as Northsider alludes to. And redevelopment has been steadily moving toward I-95 from VCU through Jackson Ward for years now. It was only a matter of time before it hopped across the bridge.

    I think this bodes well for the area in general. My only concern is the nearby housing project (Gilpin Court). Perhaps it is time to dismantle and build something better. I know that will trigger a political firestorm like the dismantling of Blackwell before it, but it is what it is. And it is a mess.

    Best of luck to The Collegiate.

  10. G January 10, 2012 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    I already see plenty of VCU students living in the Battery Park area. They ride scooters and bicycles to class. This is a great idea in a developing area with tons of potential, especially with a pool and shuttle service.

  11. Dave March 30, 2012 at 2:32 pm - Reply

    A stones throw away from Gilpin Court. I’m sure the thugs that hang around there cannot wait for some fresh unsuspecting meat to move in next door. Maybe the city will have the mounted police patrol the new apartments just like they do Gilpin Court. I would expect the apartments to look like crap in about a year. VCU’s run to the final four probably had something to do with this project being started.

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