VCU gobbles up more real estate

VCU bought the apartments at 616 W. Grace St. earlier this month. Photos by Burl Rolett.

VCU bought the apartments at 616 W. Grace St. earlier this month. Photos by Burl Rolett.

Virginia Commonwealth University has inched a little farther east on Grace Street.

The school bought the apartment property at 616 W. Grace St. in a $2.2 million deal that closed July 18. The three-story building sits on a 0.1-acre sliver of land between Ever Green Chinese Food and Pine Street.

It’s unclear exactly what the school has in mind for its newly acquired apartment building. But a report it filed with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality said the land is a piece of VCU’s $3 billion master plan meant to add housing for 1,300 more students, parking for several thousand extra cars and another 3 million square feet of academic space.

“Acquisition and re-development of the subject property is a move toward fulfilling the master plan; however, the specific nature of the project for this property has yet to be defined,” a DEQ project description states.

For now, the property will remain an apartment building, VCU spokeswoman Anne Buckley said.

“The apartment will continue to be managed as an apartment building until such time as a development plan is formulated,” she said.

The school’s master plan references a potential new education building at the northwest corner of Grace and Belvidere streets but does not offer a development proposal for the other side of Grace Street.

Ever Green Chinese Food sits right next to VCU's new apartment building.

Ever Green Chinese Food sits right next to VCU’s new apartment building.

The apartment building, which still has tenants, was previously owned by BEL Investments LLC, an entity tied to Fan-based landlord Trustworth Properties. Mark Gans of Trustworth did not return a message by press time.

Any large-scale development at the apartment building would likely also require the parcel immediately east at 612 W. Grace St., the current site of the Ever Green Chinese restaurant. VCU already owns the 0.2-acre surface parking lot on the east side of the restaurant, where construction trailers are staging for the school’s new Institute for Contemporary Art.

VCU’s apartment buy is its latest in a string of both school- and privately funded investments along West Grace Street. On that same block, local businessman Steve Uphoff has pitched a new high-rise apartment building for a BP gas station property he owns at Broad and Grace streets.

Farther west, VCU owns almost the entire 700 block of Grace Street after buying the Sally Bell’s Kitchen building at 708 W. Grace St. in March.

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VCU’s two new dorm buildings continue to rise on West Grace Street.

Another two blocks over from Sally Bell’s, Phil Roper and George Emerson are nearing completion on a $20 million apartment building. Roper is also developing a 79,000-square-foot office and classroom tower for the school at 912 W. Grace St. The latter project is being funded by VCU and is rising on school-owned land.

On the 1000 block of West Grace Street, VCU is adding two more dormitory buildings near a former Ukrop’s grocery store.  That project will add 426 beds at a cost of about $36.4 million.

All told, VCU and private developers have more than $100 million worth of construction underway along the five-block stretch between Ryland and Belvidere streets.

VCU bought the apartments at 616 W. Grace St. earlier this month. Photos by Burl Rolett.

VCU bought the apartments at 616 W. Grace St. earlier this month. Photos by Burl Rolett.

Virginia Commonwealth University has inched a little farther east on Grace Street.

The school bought the apartment property at 616 W. Grace St. in a $2.2 million deal that closed July 18. The three-story building sits on a 0.1-acre sliver of land between Ever Green Chinese Food and Pine Street.

It’s unclear exactly what the school has in mind for its newly acquired apartment building. But a report it filed with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality said the land is a piece of VCU’s $3 billion master plan meant to add housing for 1,300 more students, parking for several thousand extra cars and another 3 million square feet of academic space.

“Acquisition and re-development of the subject property is a move toward fulfilling the master plan; however, the specific nature of the project for this property has yet to be defined,” a DEQ project description states.

For now, the property will remain an apartment building, VCU spokeswoman Anne Buckley said.

“The apartment will continue to be managed as an apartment building until such time as a development plan is formulated,” she said.

The school’s master plan references a potential new education building at the northwest corner of Grace and Belvidere streets but does not offer a development proposal for the other side of Grace Street.

Ever Green Chinese Food sits right next to VCU's new apartment building.

Ever Green Chinese Food sits right next to VCU’s new apartment building.

The apartment building, which still has tenants, was previously owned by BEL Investments LLC, an entity tied to Fan-based landlord Trustworth Properties. Mark Gans of Trustworth did not return a message by press time.

Any large-scale development at the apartment building would likely also require the parcel immediately east at 612 W. Grace St., the current site of the Ever Green Chinese restaurant. VCU already owns the 0.2-acre surface parking lot on the east side of the restaurant, where construction trailers are staging for the school’s new Institute for Contemporary Art.

VCU’s apartment buy is its latest in a string of both school- and privately funded investments along West Grace Street. On that same block, local businessman Steve Uphoff has pitched a new high-rise apartment building for a BP gas station property he owns at Broad and Grace streets.

Farther west, VCU owns almost the entire 700 block of Grace Street after buying the Sally Bell’s Kitchen building at 708 W. Grace St. in March.

fdsfsd

VCU’s two new dorm buildings continue to rise on West Grace Street.

Another two blocks over from Sally Bell’s, Phil Roper and George Emerson are nearing completion on a $20 million apartment building. Roper is also developing a 79,000-square-foot office and classroom tower for the school at 912 W. Grace St. The latter project is being funded by VCU and is rising on school-owned land.

On the 1000 block of West Grace Street, VCU is adding two more dormitory buildings near a former Ukrop’s grocery store.  That project will add 426 beds at a cost of about $36.4 million.

All told, VCU and private developers have more than $100 million worth of construction underway along the five-block stretch between Ryland and Belvidere streets.

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Jay Muir
Jay Muir
7 years ago

For the love of all that’s holy, VCU, please find a way to incorporate this character-filled structure into your plans. I don’t begrudge the university space to expand, but an interesting city (or campus!) has buildings that recall its history.

Without some historical variety to its streetscapes, VCU runs the risk that in 15 years it will feel like Innsbrook: a collection of blandness built from the same Lego set.

John Hays
John Hays
7 years ago

Why don’t you do a piece on the hardship inflicted on middle class students to afford the $20,000 +/year cost to attend VCU.

Will Smith
Will Smith
7 years ago

VCU is planning on spending millions so students can come to a “green” campus and park their cars in thousands of new spaces in ugly decks, for which they’ll pay a lot of money per month. They’ll be herded into sterile ugly buildings–one suspects an on-campus housing requirement is coming. And for what? So they can sit in their rooms and take MOOCs using courses developed by for-profit corporations somewhere?

It would be nice to hear about Virginia Commonwealth University–an educational place for students and faculty–and less about Virginia Commonwealth Real Estate Development, Inc.

John Pryor
John Pryor
7 years ago

I agree with you Smith, Richmond has such wonderful historic architecture and design that should be incorporated into the landscape instead of demolishing it. All of these new buildings and projects in downtown are hideous and have no character at all. They look like chemistry labs with elevators….Not at all worth the price of admission.