VCU pulls into former trolley station

The former Richmond Glass Company building. (Photo by David Larter)

The former Richmond Glass Company building. (Photo by David Larter)

Add another building to VCU’s downtown real estate empire.

The school last month bought the former Richmond Glass Shop building at 814 W. Broad St., where it plans a $6.8 million build-out for two of its arts programs.

“We’ve been negotiating with the owners there for several months now,” said Brian Ohlinger, head of VCU Facilities Management, “but it took us that long to get the proper financing together to acquire it.”

VCU paid $2.1 million for the building, which once housed a trolley station and most recently was home to the Richmond Glass Shop. It has 18,000 square feet of space and includes two warehouses on Marshall Street with an additional 8,500 square feet, according to city records.

The development, which is being handled by the school’s nonprofit real estate foundation, will look to qualify for historic tax credits, Ohlinger said.

Richmond-based TRENT will be the general contractor, and Commonwealth Architects is the architect. Construction should be completed by December, in time for the spring semester, he said.

Ohlinger said the building would eventually house two programs from the VCU School of the Arts, including dance and visual production.

“We were looking for a building with large volumes of space for stages, sets, green screens and the like, and the trolley station had that,” he said. “We think it will be excellent for that program.

The dance program will be housed in the warehouse space in the back, which will be renovated with a small addition, he said.

The school identified the old trolley station in its $3 billion master plan.

In addition to the station, the plan identified the nearby Sahara restaurant property as a future acquisition target. The master plan shows the location would be converted into a student wellness center.

Ohlinger said VCU wasn’t putting in offers on Sahara right now.

“If and when the space becomes available, we are interested in buying it,” he said. “We have a nice idea for something that would fit really well in that space.”

Richmond Glass Shop moved around the corner to 306 Gilmer St.

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Brian
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Brian

This wasnt just a trolley station, this was the terminal for the trolley line that ran between Richmond and Ashland. The ROW of this line is still visible in such places like behind St Josephs Villa, the old Hermitage Country Club, and Ashland has actually rail-trailed about a mile of the old ROW.

Stuart
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Stuart

The Richmond and Chesapeake Bay Railway was in no way a “trolley.” It was a prototype high speed interurban electric railway that ran vehicles up to 90mph! The cars drew current through a pantograph from overhead catenary running at 6,600 volts. It also had a revolutionary concrete viaduct running out of the back of this building high above street level.

Charles
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Charles

Vcu buying property is great news for the city

Shelly
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Shelly

“The Richmond Union Passenger Railway, in Richmond, Virginia, was the first practical electric trolley (tram) system, and set the pattern for most subsequent electric trolley systems around the world.” Richmond does not live up to its rich history today. It’s a shame.

Stuart
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Stuart

Not to be pedantic but this building was not part of Richmond Union Passenger Rwy, it was a totally different system that started service about 20 years after the streetcars.

R Sweeney
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R Sweeney
peter
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peter

quick math puts the project at $495/s.f.

Jay
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That’s assuming they don’t gain any square footage with the construction and doesn’t include the additional 8500sq ft in the two warehouses.

Elizabeth
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Elizabeth

Visual production isn’t a major at VCU. What’s that mean? Cinema, KI, film? Those are all three different thing.

Susan Chiocca
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Susan Chiocca

This building was also the home of Jimmy’s Restaurant from 1907 – 1984 on the right side of Richmond Glass Shop. 812 W Broad. When my grandfather opened the space in 1907 it was considered a confectionery. He sold magazines, ice cream and I’m not sure what else – I have a great picture of what it looked like then. Years later it became a full fledged restaurant. The cook, (Edna) that was there when I was born was trained by her mother, whom had work there as well. Also, my Aunt Dottie, whom Dot’s Back Inn was named for,… Read more »