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VCU buys industrial building along Hermitage Road for $7.25 million to be part of planned athletics village
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VCU buys industrial building along Hermitage Road for $7.25 million to be part of planned athletics village

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RTD A1 - Dec. 3, 2021

Virginia Commonwealth University has purchased an industrial facility along Hermitage Road, bringing the university one step closer to acquiring all the land it needs to build a 40-acre athletics village near The Diamond.

In a sale that closed Tuesday, VCU bought a 6-acre parcel at 1609 Sherwood Ave. from Bourne Enterprises for $7.25 million, according to commercial real estate brokerage Porter Realty Co., which represented the seller.

The plot of land includes a 174,000-square-foot industrial building that houses West End Printing. West End Printing intends to relocate to eastern Henrico, Porter Realty said.

In the past two years, VCU has spent almost $24 million buying land along Hermitage Road for a new athletics facility that will include indoor and outdoor tennis courts, indoor and outdoor tracks, a soccer stadium and a practice field.

The university bought the Greyhound Lines building for $11.8 million in March 2020, the Salvation Army building for $4.5 million in December 2020 and the James River Distillery in March 2021 for $183,000.

VCU hasn’t taken ownership yet of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority headquarters, which is located along Robin Hood Road at the northern end of the development.

The General Assembly set a sale price of $16 million for the ABC facility and allocated $14.7 million toward the purchase. VCU will add $1.3 million of its own money. Virginia ABC moved its offices to Hanover County earlier this year but has continued to transport product from the city warehouse.

VCU doesn’t know when it will take ownership of the building, athletics director Ed McLaughlin said Friday.

Altogether, the village will cost between $80 million and $100 million, McLaughlin said earlier this fall. Construction could start as early as next summer and will take five years or more. VCU won’t purchase any more land toward the village.

To fund the project, VCU will launch what it called the largest athletics fundraising campaign in its history. In the university’s six-year plan, the village is slated for the two-year fiscal period that begins July 1. It’s just one piece of more than $1 billion in construction planned by VCU over the next six years.

Karol Gray, VCU’s chief financial officer, said when she arrived at the university in 2016, she immediately recognized that VCU’s athletic teams, not including basketball, had substandard facilities compared to other Atlantic 10 schools. The village is something VCU’s athletes need, she said.

The university also will offer the village to be used by the extended community, too.

VCU intends to sell Sports Backers Stadium to the city, Gray said. Sports Backers Stadium, which is owned by VCU, opened in 1999, hosts the VCU men’s and women’s soccer teams and the track and field teams for VCU and Virginia Union University. It is located on the western side of Hermitage Road and is adjacent to The Diamond’s parking lot.

A minor-league baseball stadium won’t be built on VCU land, Gray added. If the city builds a new stadium, VCU will continue to lease space for its baseball team, which plays its home games at The Diamond.

ekolenich@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6109

Twitter: @EricKolenich

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Eric Kolenich writes about higher education, health systems and more for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. He joined the newspaper in 2009 and spent 11 years in the Sports section. (804) 649-6109

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