State officials have gauged VCU’s interest in the training camp site, but have not entered into talks | Education
With the future of the Leigh Street training camp facilities in question, speculation is turning to Virginia Commonwealth University, a major player in Richmond real estate.
The soccer fields behind the science museum that once served as the Washington commanders’ home in early August don’t fit easily into VCU’s master plan, which focuses more on joining the college campus with the medical campus.
But the site is just a mile from the nascent athletics village – and even closer as the crow flies – making it imaginable it could play a role in VCU athletics.
State officials have gauged VCU’s interest in buying or leasing the land, a person familiar with the matter said. The 15-acre parcel includes two full-size football fields, green space, parking, and a two-story office building valued at $14 million. The establishment opened in 2013.
But VCU hasn’t had any conversations on the site, said Meredith Weiss, vice president for administration.
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“We have no conversations about this property at this time,” she said. “We focus on our athletics village.”
The fact that the state questioned VCU about the property is also not unusual. It is common for government agencies to assess VCU interest when real estate becomes available.
VCU has construction projects worth more than $1 billion over the next six years, paid for by the university, state, and other sources. But the Monroe Park campus expansion is headed east, toward downtown, closing the one-mile gap between the college campus and the Medical College of Virginia campus.
To bring the campuses closer together, VCU is calling for improved public transit between the two and improved cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.
VCU has recently continued its expansion east of North Belvidere Street – last year an engineering building opened along Cary Street, adjoining the already existing building that houses the business school.
A few blocks north, VCU plans to construct a $181 million arts and innovation building at the intersection of West Broad and Belvidere, subject to General Assembly funding in a budget that could be approved next week.
The university also intends to reinvent its current footprint. The former Franklin Street Gymnasium will become a $124 million science, technology, engineering and math building.
After demolishing the T. Edward Temple building and tennis courts, VCU plans to build a four-story student residence, wellness center and green space at a cost of approximately $156 million.
To replace the current student commons, the university is planning a $152 million classroom and lab building along Linden Street. Funding for this building is planned for the next biennium.
Another plan includes building a new Honors College dormitory across West Grace Street from the current building, adding 700 beds. Funding will not be sought until 2024.
On the health campus, VCU plans to construct a new School of Dentistry building sometime after 2024.
Richmond’s new 16-story, $400 million Children’s Hospital at VCU Tower is set to open next year.
But there is one notable exception to VCU’s downtown-facing expansion – its Athletics Village, a project expected to cost between $80 million and $100 million on 40 acres of land along Hermitage Road that VCU has acquired or is in the process of acquiring.
VCU has yet to take over Virginia’s former liquor control facility, although it hopes to do so soon, athletic director Ed McLaughlin said recently. The demolition of the warehouse could start this year.
First on the construction schedule are the new tennis courts and training grounds. During the 2024-26 biennium, VCU plans to begin constructing a multi-purpose indoor facility.