A new apartment tower near VCU is getting ready to go vertical next week.
Basement and foundation work will begin Monday on the Square, an 11-story building that will cost about $20 million, said project developer Phil Roper.
A strip center at 900 W. Grace St. was demolished last week to make room for the 154,000-square-foot development. The project will add 156 apartments to the VCU campus and 3,400 square feet of retail on the ground floor.
Roper is partnering with developer George Emerson on the project. The two own Plus Management and proposed the tower last year.
“The big hold-up was getting the utilities in place,” Roper said. “Those are finally in place, and we got our permit last week, so I think we have a green light.”
Emerson Construction Group is the general contractor. The project was designed by Walter Parks Architect.
The asking price for the tower’s ground floor retail space is $24 per square foot per year, according to a Loopnet flyer.
Sean Eichert, a broker with Plus Management, said he’s had a lot of interest in the space.
“It’s actually been fairly overwhelming,” he said. “We’ve had about six serious proposals for the space. … We’re not having to make concessions – all of the proposals are coming in at full rent.”
Retail has struggled near the VCU campus. A VCU report last year listed retail vacancy at 25 percent in the roughly 18-block lay of the campus.
The report showed a total of about 112,000 square feet of retail with about 27,000 square feet of vacancy.
Roper said the tower should be completed by July 2014.
Roper is developing an adjacent property at 912 W. Grace St. into a seven-story structure for VCU. That project will be a 78,000-square-foot, $15 million office building with some classrooms, he said. It is being funded by the VCU Real Estate Foundation.
Chesterfield developer Steve Uphoff is planning a $12 million tower down the street on the site of the BP station at Grace and Belvidere streets.