Law and order is coming to East Broad Street: Rams style.
The Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department plans to move its West Grace Street headquarters to 224 E. Broad St. in the summer of 2015, said Corey Byers, the department’s public information officer.
The new headquarters, which the department will lease, is almost twice the size of its current 14,460-square-foot base at 938 W. Grace St. The new building, previously occupied by the United Way and now vacant, will give VCU PD 28,280 square feet.
The move will give the department a centralized location between VCU’s Monroe Park Campus and MCV Campus, Assistant Chief Chris Preuss said. Growth potential was another major factor in the decision to relocate.
“The university has been growing for years, and we have been growing in presence. Unfortunately, the walls around us aren’t growing,” Preuss said. “We outgrew where we are, quite frankly, 10 years ago.”
The East Broad Street building is owned by Jemal’s United Way LLC, according to city records. That entity is tied to Washington, D.C.-based Douglas Development.
Douglas owns the nearby Central National Bank building at 219 E. Broad St. The developer has major renovations planned for the long dormant tower.
Earlier this month, the VCU Board of Visitors approved a $3.3-million budget for renovations necessary to transform the space for a police department, Byers said. Plans include the creation of offices, meeting rooms, locker rooms and classroom space, as well as the installation of a security system.
Work should begin in late fall or early winter this year. Richmond-based Walter Parks Architects is designing the project. A general contractor will be selected by a public bid process.
The department has not yet completed its lease for the building, Byers said. Annual operating costs for the facility are estimated to be $200,800.
Last year, the VCU Police Department added 10 sworn officers, bringing its total to 92, Preuss said. It also employs 44 civilian staffers, nine hourly employees and 199 non-sworn student workers.
Currently, employees are scattered among several buildings because of space constraints, Byers said. Although the details haven’t become final, the department plans to maintain a space on West Grace Street to serve as a substation for the Monroe Park Campus.
The department handles an average of 75,000 annual calls for service and officer-initiated events, Byers said. Its jurisdiction includes all university-owned, leased or controlled properties and adjacent streets and sidewalks, its website says. It handles all VCU investigations and arrests, with the exception of homicides, which are deferred to the Richmond Police Department.
VCU PD’s annual budget for fiscal year 2013-14 is $8.46 million.
VCU has several other big real estate projects in the works. The university will break ground next month on the $35 million Institute for Contemporary Art.