University takes a page from VCU playbook


Click this rendering of VSU’s planned multipurpose center for a larger version. (Courtesy of VSU)

VCU shouldn’t get to have all the fun.

Virginia State University is ramping up for a massive building project of its own.

The school will break ground Friday on a 165,000-square-foot, $84 million multipurpose center at Third Avenue and Watson Street. VSU’s arena will be the first piece in a plan that calls for mixed-use residential and commercial development along Chesterfield Avenue.

“That’s going to be the anchor,” VSU spokesman Tom Reed said. “I like to liken it to what VCU did when the Siegel Center came up – they kind of added buildings with shops on the bottom with apartments on top on Broad Street.”

The multipurpose center will sit at the edge of the VSU campus in the town of Ettrick, immediately west of Colonial Heights and north of Petersburg. The project is as least two years in the works and will be funded entirely by the state of Virginia, VSU president Keith Miller said.

Plans for other projects near the center are in their infancy, and no contracts are in place, but Reed said the VSU facility and planned county-funded upgrades along Chesterfield Avenue will spur development in Ettrick.

VSU will move its indoor sporting events to the center, which will hold 5,100 spectators. Daniel Gymnasium, VSU’s current indoor stadium, seats about 3,500. The center will include classrooms, practice facilities and locker rooms for indoor sports, a 900-seat banquet kitchen and several VIP suites.

As a stage or concert venue, the new facility will seat about 6,100, capacity that Miller hopes Ettrick will take advantage of.

“It’ll bring something to the community,” he said. “I hope it will be a venue for a variety of events: community events, hopefully things like commencement exercises, conferences or speaking events, as well as maybe even concerts and whatnot.”

Norfolk-based Clark Nexsen Architects and Engineers designed the multipurpose center. Virginia-based Ballard Construction will be the project’s general contractor, and Fairfax’s McDonough Bolyard Peck will handle project management duties. VSU expects the project will a little less than two years to complete.

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Kyle McKenna

Must be nice to qualify for this kind of taxpayer largesse…