One of the University of Richmond’s key moneymen is giving the school’s downtown presence a big boost.
Rob Blandford and his wife, Nancy Everett, donated $825,000 to UR Downtown, the university’s campus at 626 E. Broad St.
Blandford is a 1979 alumnus of UR’s business school and president and chief investment officer of Spider Management, the company that oversees the university’s $1.8 billion endowment.
Most of the donation will go toward enhancing the university’s downtown program, said Amy Howard, director of UR’s center for civic engagement.
“This has been well over a year in the making,” Howard said. “We’re really trying to turn it into a hub for the community.”
The downtown program includes a public lecture series, a law clinic, a volunteer tax preparation service and the Richmond on Broad Cafe, a lunch spot the school launched in September.
Howard said the university used a portion of the donation to install a 25-foot sign on the side of the East Broad building.
Dee Hardy, head of dining services at UR, said the sign should help bring in a new stream of customers to the fledgling cafe.
“We’ve done some canvassing of the area, and we were surprised to find just how many people didn’t realize we were there,” Hardy said. “Once we get customers through the door, most of them come back. It’s just a matter of getting the word out.”
Hardy said most of the cafe’s customers come from City Hall, with an increase in student visitors on the weekends.
“It’s going to take between two and three years to build the business to the point we really want,” Hardy said.
I like the sign – looks great. Nice to know the University has a long term plan, realizing it will take several years to build the business. They’ll be well positioned as downtown continues to transform and grow. Best of luck!
I love how it reads, “You are Downtown”
Agree with you both….would love to know more about the volunteer tax preparation service.
Thanks for the great story about UR Downtown and its new sign. We love working at URD and want to let folks know that our program, Partners in the Arts, is also located here. PIA works closely with local PreK-12 teachers to help them use the arts to teach all subjects. We are part of UR’s School of Professional and Continuing Studies, so that makes three UR schools with programs at URD: Law, Arts and Sciences, and SPCS.