VCU snags Northside property for $3M

VCU Health bought the 10-year-old building in Northside for $3 million. (Photos by Mike Platania)

VCU Health is becoming its own landlord on the Northside after buying a building just off Chamberlayne Avenue from the Robins Foundation.

The health system last week purchased the Lora M. Robins Family Learning Center at 800 W. Graham Road for $3 million.

The deal closed March 29, per city property records. The 21,000-square-foot building most recently was assessed at $4.7 million.

The Robins Foundation built the center in 2009. It since has been home to nonprofit Partnership For Families, which offers pre-K education, employment skills services and child care, as well as VCU Health’s own child care center.

The Robins Foundation had been the previous owner.

Following the sale, Partnership For Families is moving to an undetermined new location.

VCU Health spokeswoman Laura Rossacher said the university will continue to run its child care service at the site.

“At the moment, 82 children are enrolled, and we are committed to continuing our work with these children and their families,” Rossacher said.

The Robins Foundation decided to sell the property following an October 2017 study it conducted to identify the needs of vulnerable families in the Northside.

Robins Foundation spokeswoman Frances Burruss said they’ll reinvest the proceeds from the sale into other programs and nonprofits that serve Northside families.

“The whole idea (to sell) sort of stemmed from the report, which Partnership For Families and the Robins Foundation did together,” Burruss said. “In that study, it was determined that the community might be better served using that money elsewhere.”

VCU is renaming the building as the VCU Health System Family Care Center Northside. Rossacher said VCU still is developing formal plans for the building.

“We envision that the center will become more of a community center where we can offer health fairs, parenting classes, special cooking classes and other programs that will benefit the Northside community,” Rossacher said.

VCU bought the building at about the same time its Board of Visitors approved a master plan that outlines future potential redevelopment opportunities, including a possible baseball stadium on the site of the current Virginia ABC headquarters.

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Bruce Milam
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Bruce Milam

The VCU version of the Holy Roman Empire continues! It’s the school that won’t stop growing. Now they need a 7’4 center.

Ashley Smith
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Ashley Smith

How did VCU snag a property during the property boom at such a discounted price? Assessed value is significantly higher than the purchase price. That’s odd. Any guesses as to why they got such a deal?

Ashley Smith
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Ashley Smith

I’ll add, in today’s market it would cost more than $3 million to build that building. Maybe RPS should try to buy existing buildings and turn them into schools given the numbers released for construction cost estimates.