New apartment tower nears completion

Photo by Burl Rolett.

Students will move into the Square Apartments in mid-August. Photo by Burl Rolett.

A month and a half before classes resume, a $20 million student apartment building is coming together on Grace Street.

The Square Apartments, a new 11-story VCU-area apartment building at Grace and Shafer streets is preleasing ahead of planned move-ins later this summer.

All the units in the first six floors are spoken for said Phil Roper, who is developing the building in a joint venture with George Emerson.

“We would have leased it all, but we’re getting the other floors in segments – another floor 15 days later, 15 days later and 15 days later,” he said. “We’ve leased what we have ready.”

Construction began at the 900 W. Grace St. apartment site in spring 2013. The finished building will be 152,000 square feet. Walter Parks is the project’s architect and Emerson Construction Group is the general contractor.

The first tenants will move into the building in the second week of August. Apartments are renting for between $800 for one-bedroom apartments up to $1,400 for the three-bedroom units. The Square is not exclusively student housing, Roper said, but the partners expect the majority of the tenants will be students.

He attributed strong tenant interest in the building so far to its site in the middle of VCU’s expanding Monroe Park campus.

“There are three things,” Roper said. “Location, location and location.”

The apartment building is one of two properties Roper has a hand in on West Grace Street. The developer is also building a $15.2 million classroom and office tower for VCU at 912 W. Grace St. The VCU Real Estate Foundation owns that site and is funding the project.

Roper and Emerson also teamed up previously on the Cedar Broad apartments at the foot of Church Hill on Broad Street and the American Tobacco Center on 20th Street.

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