VCU’s forthcoming Institute for Contemporary Art is getting some more elbow room.
Demolition crews with Chesterfield-based C.D. Hall Construction spent the start of this week tearing down a three-story, 1920s-era apartment building at 616 W. Grace St., next door to the former Evergreen Restaurant building that also was recently demolished.
The buildings are making way for dedicated parking for the ICA, the 43,000-square-foot, $41 million art institution taking shape at the intersection of Belvidere and Broad streets. During media tours of the building last month, ICA representatives said surface parking, walkways and other site improvements would be completed by the building’s Oct. 28 opening, forming its university-facing entrance.
VCU purchased the apartment building in 2014 for $2.2 million, according to city property records. It purchased the Evergreen building last September for $2 million.
As the apartment building came down Monday and Tuesday, work continued on the ICA – an unusually shaped, metal-sided structure being built by Gilbane Building Co. It was designed by New York-based Steven Holl Architects and locally based BCWH Architects.
Its 1-acre site was donated to the school’s real estate foundation in 2014. In addition to the apartment and restaurant buildings along Grace Street, the school has purchased the since-demolished Hess gas station on the other side of Belvidere, paying $3.15 million in 2015.
A holdout on the ICA block is the Sunoco gas station at the corner of Grace and Belvidere. That property is owned by an LLC tied to local businessman Steve Uphoff, who has said he is coordinating with VCU on plans for a high-rise apartment building on the site.
The apartments and Evergreen building are the latest structures to fall along the university’s stretch of West Grace Street. Last year, the former Sahara restaurant at 813 W. Grace St. was torn down after VCU purchased it that January for $2.5 million – part of a $15 million bond package it approved in 2015.
The ICA is one of several sizable construction projects underway on VCU’s Monroe Park Campus. Along West Main Street across from the park, a 12-story, $96 million dorm project is going vertical, replacing a 30-year-old student housing complex that was taken down. And the park itself is undergoing a $6 million renovation that started late last year and is slated to last 12 to 18 months.