VCU to start demolition this spring for $253M art and innovation center at Broad and Belvidere – Richmond BizSense

VCU to start demolition this spring for $253M art and innovation center at Broad and Belvidere - Richmond BizSense

Visible work is set to begin this spring on VCU’s next anchor project at the intersection of Broad and Belvidere streets. The university expects to start demolition of the roughly acre-sized site for its upcoming 213,000-square-foot CoStar Center for Arts and Innovation after it holds a ground-breaking ceremony in April, university vice president Meredith Weiss said in an interview last week. The $253 million building will be constructed across the street from VCU’s Institute for Contemporary Art, and is intended to help more firmly establish the university’s presence at the major intersection with a sizable facility dedicated to programs the university is known for. “It’s a game changer,” Weiss said. “It brings our nationally prominent art and innovation programs to the busiest intersection in Richmond and connects us to the city.” The new building will be a consolidated home for arts programs and include facilities for medicine, business and engineering students. The building is planned to feature classrooms, rehearsal spaces, an auditorium, sound studio, prop shop and costume lab, among other facilities. Though VCU had previously targeted fall 2023 to start the project, the university is sticking to plans to open the facility in 2027, Weiss said. Hourigan has been selected to serve as the project’s general contractor. William Rawn Associates was tapped to handle the building’s architectural design. About $232 million in state funding will cover most of the project cost. CoStar, the real estate data giant with sizable operations in downtown Richmond, will contribute $18 million toward the project. The number of stories the building would have is still being determined. The upcoming building is anticipated to be among the top three largest academic facilities at VCU, along with the three-building School of Dentistry (a 272,000-square-foot facility slated to be replaced with a brand-new construction project) and the 220,000-square-foot McGlothlin Medical Education Center that’s also on the MCV campus. The project site is an assemblage of three university-owned parcels that consist of a now-demolished gas station site at 535 W. Broad St., the vacant former RamBikes building at 201 N. Belvidere St., and a vacant restaurant building at 501 W. Broad St. VCU paid $6.3 million between 2009 and 2017 to acquire the assemblage, according to online property records. The project has evolved in cost since 2019, when it was approved by the Board of Visitors at an estimated cost of $181 million. VCU in 2023 adjusted the price tag upward due to multiple factors. The anticipated spring timeline for the start of demolition comes about a year after CoStar announced it would put its name on the center and support construction. CoStar CEO and founder Andy Florance, who is also a member of VCU’s Board of Visitors, said support of the project lines up with the company’s desire to build relationships with the university’s students, particularly in the arts. “Our engagement with the graduates and the interns is really important to us. Our business has evolved from being a pure data analytics business to being much more engaging with consumers,” Florance told BizSense. “I do view the future of technology and the internet as having an important design element.” CoStar opened its Richmond office in 2016 and has about 1,500 local employees. The company is underway on construction of an expanded riverfront campus expected to be completed in early 2026. Florance said the company has 300 to 400 locally based employees with art and media skills, the kind of people who will study at the future art and innovation center and a segment of the company he wants to grow. “If you asked me 10 years ago would I be employing hundreds of graphic artists, musicians, video editors, voice talent…I never would have imagined it, but we are,” he said.