VCU has acquired a slice of real estate near its Monroe Park campus that it has coveted for at least 15 years.
Last week the university’s Real Estate Foundation purchased 310 Shafer St. for $500,000, city records show.
The 0.03-acre parcel is a block north of the campus and currently is home to a two-story, 2,400-square-foot house that the university once rented as office space.
A VCU spokesman said the university has no defined use for the building, and the building is not outlined for future development in the master plan VCU adopted in 2019.
VCU owns a handful of buildings surrounding the Shafer Street house, including Lafayette Hall next door at 312 Shafer St. and West Grace North and South, a pair of roughly 10-year-old dorms at 830 and 835 W. Grace St.
Local lobbyist Sumpter Priddy Jr. had owned the house from the 1960s until his death in 2017. City records show that the property was then transferred to Priddy’s son, John W. Priddy, a doctor in Southwest Virginia. He could not be reached for comment.
The Shafer Street property was once the subject of a legal spat between VCU’s Real Estate Foundation and the elder Priddy.
Richmond Circuit Court records show that in 2006 the VCU Real Estate Foundation filed a lawsuit against Priddy, alleging breach of contract related to the university’s lease of the building, which allegedly included a clause that gave VCU the option to buy the property after its lease expired in 2005.
The purchase price at the time, according to court documents, was to have been $169,500.
However, in 2007, then-Judge T.J. Markow ruled against the VCU Real Estate Foundation. Per a 2007 Style Weekly report, VCU did not renew its lease with Priddy following the ruling.
This latest sale closed Feb. 28. The city most recently assessed the 123-year-old building and its land at a total of $328,000.
VCU’s Real Estate Foundation has been less active with its property deals in recent years after going on a tear in the mid-to-late 2010s. During that stretch it spent at least $12.6 million on properties like the former Sahara restaurant building on West Grace Street, a half-acre parking lot adjacent to the Institute for Contemporary Art, the former Mansion at 534 nightclub building on North Harrison Street, and 501 W. Broad St., a plot that once housed New York Fried Chicken.
In 2021 the foundation spent $5 million on a North Belvidere office building, but most of the university’s recent real estate deals have come along Arthur Ashe Boulevard as it prepares to develop an “Athletics Village” across from the Diamond District.
The school completed assembling the land it needed for the Athletics Village last year when it acquired the former Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority headquarters. The university paid a total of $39 million for the 41 acres in the area.
It’s hard not to be angry at how much real estate the university owns or controls, especially considering how much of it is parking lots.
I shudder to think what that part of the city would be like today without the 200’s-2010’s revitalization VCU has done.
I agree with Justin’s comments. As a resident of the VCU neighborhood I welcome their efforts to secure and convert what has in large part been abandoned and/or sub-standard properties.
And that is why you are paying more and more in property taxes each year – because VCU is taking up more property that is not taxed.
Just another small step by the “not for profit” entity to reduce tax revenue in the City. It’s great that VCU has upgraded some blighted areas but when will politicians wake up and realize the drain on resources that occurs when VCCU and the Commonwealth pay no property taxes.
TOTALLY agree Brian! VCU does NOT need to expand it’s property. The students STILL are not required to be “on campus” for most of their classes. Shameful that the city has not required VCU to build UP instead of out. Most of their recent build has been less than 5 stories. MCV Children’s Hospital is 16 stories – VCU Stem Building is 5 or 6 WHY?
Victoria, as a State agency VCU is not subject to local land use regulations. Only its private foundation is. University owned buildings are permitted through the Virginia Department of Buildings, not the City. Secondly, while the City can restrict owners other than the State with regard to building height through zoning, it cannot compel a developer to build taller.
“as a State agency VCU is not subject to local land use regulations”. So why doesn’t VCU “do the right thing” for the community in which they operate and stop gobbling up land that could be taxed if private. I guess the GA will need to “compel” VCU to build UP.
Are you saying the city should have not allowed the sale? The building was on the market for quite a while and they were asking way more than $500k. There were no buyers. Real estate taxes on this parcel were less than $4,000 last year. The VCU Real Estate Foundation pays property taxes so there is no loss of tax revenue.