VCU buys ABC site across from The Diamond for $16M

vcuabc1

The former Virginia ABC headquarters is now under the control of VCU. (BizSense file photo)

Three years and five deals later, VCU has successfully pieced together the land it needs for its planned athletics complex near The Diamond.

Last week the university purchased the former Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority headquarters at 2901 Hermitage Road for $16 million, city records show.

With the 20-acre ABC property in hand, VCU now has about 41 acres of land in the vicinity, on which it’s planning to build an “Athletics Village” that will include a tennis center, a soccer stadium, an outdoor track and more. The plans for the village were laid out in the master plan VCU adopted in 2019.

In total, VCU paid about $39 million for its 41 acres of land in the neighborhood over the last two years.

The ABC’s old headquarters was recently vacated by the state agency following a five-year process that saw its nerve center moved to a new warehouse and office complex in Hanover. Its old home on Hermitage is currently occupied by a 365,000-square-foot warehouse. The land and the vacant warehouse were most recently assessed at $21 million, per city records.

Though the deal closed on June 10, it had been years in the making, as the 2019 state budget included a provision that gave VCU the first right of refusal on the ABC land. The $16 million sale price was determined by the General Assembly since the ABC is a state agency and VCU is a public university. An ABC spokeswoman said the $16 million will eventually be transferred to agency’s general fund.

vcuabc2

A conceptual rendering of part of the athletics village, which will include a tennis center that’s open to the public. (Rendering courtesy of VCU)

VCU Athletics Director Ed McLaughlin said in a statement that the ABC property is the final key piece for the village.

“We have worked on the planning phase of these facilities for some time and now that we have the needed property, we will clear the site in the near future,” McLaughlin said.

The various facilities for the athletics village would be built in phases over five to seven years.

VCU began assembling land for the project shortly after the pandemic arrived in 2020 with the $11 million acquisition of the Greyhound Maintenance station at 2710 Hermitage Road. That year it also bought four acres owned by the Salvation Army to the immediate south for $4.5 million.

Its string of deals continued into 2021 with the relatively small purchase of James River Distillery’s building at 2700 Hardy St. for less than $200,000 before closing out the year with a $7.3 million purchase of the old West End Printing warehouse at 1609 Sherwood Ave.

To the athletic village’s immediate west is The Diamond and neighboring 60 acres of city-owned land that’s been dubbed the Diamond District. The city is currently reviewing redevelopment proposals for that assemblage, a massive undertaking that would include a new ballpark to be shared by the Richmond Flying Squirrels and VCU Rams baseball team.

vcuabc1

The former Virginia ABC headquarters is now under the control of VCU. (BizSense file photo)

Three years and five deals later, VCU has successfully pieced together the land it needs for its planned athletics complex near The Diamond.

Last week the university purchased the former Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority headquarters at 2901 Hermitage Road for $16 million, city records show.

With the 20-acre ABC property in hand, VCU now has about 41 acres of land in the vicinity, on which it’s planning to build an “Athletics Village” that will include a tennis center, a soccer stadium, an outdoor track and more. The plans for the village were laid out in the master plan VCU adopted in 2019.

In total, VCU paid about $39 million for its 41 acres of land in the neighborhood over the last two years.

The ABC’s old headquarters was recently vacated by the state agency following a five-year process that saw its nerve center moved to a new warehouse and office complex in Hanover. Its old home on Hermitage is currently occupied by a 365,000-square-foot warehouse. The land and the vacant warehouse were most recently assessed at $21 million, per city records.

Though the deal closed on June 10, it had been years in the making, as the 2019 state budget included a provision that gave VCU the first right of refusal on the ABC land. The $16 million sale price was determined by the General Assembly since the ABC is a state agency and VCU is a public university. An ABC spokeswoman said the $16 million will eventually be transferred to agency’s general fund.

vcuabc2

A conceptual rendering of part of the athletics village, which will include a tennis center that’s open to the public. (Rendering courtesy of VCU)

VCU Athletics Director Ed McLaughlin said in a statement that the ABC property is the final key piece for the village.

“We have worked on the planning phase of these facilities for some time and now that we have the needed property, we will clear the site in the near future,” McLaughlin said.

The various facilities for the athletics village would be built in phases over five to seven years.

VCU began assembling land for the project shortly after the pandemic arrived in 2020 with the $11 million acquisition of the Greyhound Maintenance station at 2710 Hermitage Road. That year it also bought four acres owned by the Salvation Army to the immediate south for $4.5 million.

Its string of deals continued into 2021 with the relatively small purchase of James River Distillery’s building at 2700 Hardy St. for less than $200,000 before closing out the year with a $7.3 million purchase of the old West End Printing warehouse at 1609 Sherwood Ave.

To the athletic village’s immediate west is The Diamond and neighboring 60 acres of city-owned land that’s been dubbed the Diamond District. The city is currently reviewing redevelopment proposals for that assemblage, a massive undertaking that would include a new ballpark to be shared by the Richmond Flying Squirrels and VCU Rams baseball team.

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Brian Glass
Brian Glass
2 years ago

The soccer field should be a priority since Sports Backers stadium, in the Diamond District, will most probably be in the area of the new baseball stadium for the Squirrels and VCU. That would mean a 2025 completion of the soccer/track facility.

Paul Mashack
Paul Mashack
2 years ago

Any word on plans for the Ashe Center?

Colleen Smith
Colleen Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Mashack

A new Ashe center is to be included within the Athletics Village.

Rob Yancey
Rob Yancey
2 years ago

Hopefully this will set the stage for VCU football program in the future and more facilites to help host a possible Washington, D.C. Summer Olympics. Richmond needs to think bigger to catch up to most major cities.

Eric Viking
Eric Viking
2 years ago
Reply to  Rob Yancey

Not sure why you’re getting down-voted. I agree – VCU needs to think big and be a REAL university with a football team. I’m perplexed why this is considered such a bad idea by so many people. If you disagree, tell me why I’m wrong. Just really want to know…what are the downsides?

Matt Faris
Matt Faris
2 years ago
Reply to  Eric Viking

I’ll try. First, there’s the Title IX requirements. Football has 65 scholarships when going “big time”. What sports do you remove (and athletes do you cut off?) to support football? Or do you add 65 women’s sports, too? Women’s rowing would be a wise choice. Lots of scholies necessary to help balance the equation. It takes quite a while to develop a D-1 program, especially when the alumni have had no previous team/program to lock onto. ODU’s current program started in 2009. It had a stadium (a large initial savings) a larger local population and no similar programs nearby. Also… Read more »

Jay Sykes
Jay Sykes
2 years ago
Reply to  Rob Yancey

It’s time for football!

Will Willis
Will Willis
2 years ago
Reply to  Jay Sykes

I can see the old Pet Dairy Plant or even the Washington Football Team Training facility becoming the VCU Football programs spot if that ever comes to life. Hoping it does the University and City is big enough another for Division 1 Football team.

Chris Key
Chris Key
1 year ago
Reply to  Rob Yancey

VCU will never have football, it would be an immense waste of resources to try and start a program from scratch in 2022. You’re talking 200-500 million to even attempt to build a program that could try to compete, let’s not pull an ODU.

Brian Glass
Brian Glass
2 years ago

For those who want football at VCU the downside is the cost. VCU currently has budget problems. Football will only add to that.

Steven Gooch
Steven Gooch
2 years ago
Reply to  Brian Glass

Wonder if their budget problems would ease if they stopped buying so much real estate. No money issues for that.

John Gerencser
John Gerencser
2 years ago

I do not think football is a fit for VCU. It’s very urban nature, diverse student body, artsy vibe don’t lend themselves to football. Not to mention it would be a very very late member to join the party. I could definitely see a new soccer stadium where the redskins trained, that could be shared by VCU and the Kickers. It doesn’t need to be a large capacity stadium, just modern and full of amenities. This would leave more room to build a world class indoor-outdoor track facility. These types of facilities could lure NCAA championships to Richmond. In addition… Read more »