Last week I was able to attend a presentation which revealed the culmination of the last 2 years of VCU working with consultants to re-develop their master plan. Rather than being a strategy of huge expansion (although it obviously includes growth), this updated plan is now centered around the concept of a “Quest for Distinction”.
VCU is already the largest and most diverse university in Virginia, but the leaders of VCU are determined to improve the existing campus and the surrounding urban communities in downtown Richmond. Effective revitalization efforts and a proactive role in “seeding” new retail options around the Monroe Park Campus and along the Broad St corridor are major goals.
Initiatives such as Middle of Broad (MoB) and the newly formed Broad and Grace Merchants Association are the first steps of this evolving task.
- MoB is a group of VCU Faculty and students with Marketing, Design, Architecture, and Engineering training who are working to update aging facades along Broad Street. A business owner can fill out an application with the Storefront for Community Design at 205 E Broad, and receive a free facade design. The city is even getting involved and is going to make funds available for use by business owners to accomplish these facade upgrades.
- The Broad and Grace Merchant’s Association is an independent entity made up of local business owners that also has the backing and support of groups such as VCU, Venture Richmond, and the Economic Development Authority.
Some other highlights of the master plan include:
- Hiring 500 more faculty to improve student to faculty ratios
Monroe Park Campus
- 1.1 million SF of Academic / Research space
- Expand multiple buldings including Cabell Library for more study space
- Move Art Program to Broad St for higher visibility
- Replace old Ukrops building on Broad to a Performance and Academic space
- 50,000 SF of vivarium or usable “green” space
- 1,056 new student beds and 250 graduate housing
- 146,000 SF for campus amenities
- 27,750 SF on-campus Athletics, 150,000 SF indoor practice facility, and several outdoor practice fields
- VCU is the only Div I school without it’s own outdoor training facility
- 700 new parking spaces
- Estimated Cost: $916 million
VCU Health Sciences
- 1.9 million SF of Academic / Research space
- Re-Structuring existing buildings and new construction for more educational / lab space
- 80,000 SF of vivarium or usable “green” space
- 200 student apartments
- 81,600 SF for campus ammenities
- 3,160 new parking spaces
- Estimated Cost: $1.278 Billion
VCU Health System
- TBD expansion and new developments
- 660 new parking spaces
- Estimated Cost $1.3 Billion
So how might all of this affect the Richmond real estate market?
- Demand for the limited supply of “character properties” in already popular neighborhoods such as The Fan, Museum District, Church Hill, and Jackson Ward is only going to increase.
- There is a need for varied commercial real estate space beyond the presently standard restaurant and coffee shop.
- Parking is going to become even more of a need and therefore any real estate with off-street parking should become even more desirable.
- More variety in retail should make living in the city a more permanent decision. This should increase the demand for larger living spaces in apartments and condos; not just micro-units.
- The “dead-zone” between MCV and the Arts District should become a vibrant and dynamic hub once again.