VCU planning new dorm with up to 1,250 beds on West Grace

vcu grace street scaled

VCU is planning to build a new undergraduate dorm that would have up to 1,250 beds on the site of the Facilities and Financial Services Building at 700 W. Grace St. (Jack Jacobs photo)

VCU is looking to continue to transform West Grace Street.

The university is currently in the early stages of planning a new dormitory of 1,000-1,250 beds that would rise at 700 W. Grace St., according to university spokesman Mike Porter.

The VCU Board of Visitors is expected this week to approve the addition of the project to the university’s six-year capital plan. If the project, identified as the West Grace Street Housing Project, is made part of VCU’s facilities plan, the university will then issue a request for proposals for the development. After the RFP solicitation, a finalized project scope and cost will be considered by the board, which would vote to authorize the project’s construction.

The facility would feature apartment-style and semi-suite beds for undergraduates. Additional details like square footage and other specifications haven’t been determined yet and are expected to be hashed out as part of the RFP. A cost estimate still needs to be figured out. VCU intends to pay for the project with revenue generated by housing payments made by students.

The project site is currently occupied by the university’s Facilities and Financial Services Building, and has previously been talked about as the site of a housing project specifically for honors students. The existing structure would be razed as part of the project.

Porter said VCU is prioritizing this dorm project over the honors housing project, which remains on the university’s capital plan. VCU officials have previously said they intend to build a dorm with more beds than the current 177-bed honors housing facility that is across the street.

The West Grace Street Housing Project is planned to be a separate and larger facility than the previously mentioned honors dorm, and the honors-specific housing could potentially be co-located on the site, Porter said.

Plans for the West Grace Street Housing Project come after VCU secured the final bit of the 700 block of West Grace Street last year. The university’s real estate foundation spent $3.5 million last May to acquire the BookHolders property at 720 W. Grace St. with the intention to knock it down for student housing.

In 2022, VCU demolished the neighboring former home of Sally Bell’s Kitchen at 708 W. Grace St. in preparation for the honors housing project, and the university said at the time it intended to also demolish the next-door Facilities and Financial Services Building for that same project, though the building was still standing this week.

VCU is also planning a renovation of Johnson Hall at 801 W. Franklin St. The dorm has been shuttered since 2021, when it closed due to concerns about mold that have since been addressed.

At the currently envisioned scale of up to 1,250 beds, the West Grace project would be one of the largest housing developments opened on the VCU campus since the 1,500-bed Gladding Residence Center, a 12-story dorm at 711 W. Main St. that opened in 2018.

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Bruce Milam
Bruce Milam
27 days ago

“a cost estimate still has to be figured out”! Let’s hope they’ve learned a few things in the last year. At least this one is directly tied to growth of the school and not to new administration facilities.

Michael Morgan-Dodson
Michael Morgan-Dodson
27 days ago
Reply to  Bruce Milam

Let’s hope but where are the poor financial and facilities staff now going?

Carl Schwendeman
Carl Schwendeman
26 days ago

If this place is going to have a 1,000 to 1,200 beds it’s at least going to have to be 20 stories tall to safely hold all those kids. In that if it’s any smaller then that it will be a crowd house with 30 to 50 people sleeping in a room.

Stephen Weisensale
Stephen Weisensale
26 days ago

That depends on the size of the footprint. Gladding for example is 12 floors with 1500 beds.